Punjabi marriage traditions are very elaborate and ritualistic. They begin days before the actual wedding day in the form of pre-wedding ceremonies. Roka is the first pre-wedding ceremony where the two families formally meet to finalize the relationship between the two families. Roka is then followed by a series of colorful and interesting occasions like ‘Sagan and Chunni Chadhana’. As the actual wedding day comes near, the celebrations become more vibrant and vivacious. Sangeet is held only few days before the wedding day and is the most amusing pre-wedding ceremony. Mehandi is held a night or two before the marriage day and is important part of the pre-wedding celebrations. Read more if you are keen on knowing more about Punjabi pre- wedding rituals.
Roka ceremony marks the beginning of a formal relationship between the two families. It is basically carried out to secure the commitment of both the parties. It is a small function involving the family members and close relatives of both the prospective bride and groom. The families involved exchange gifts, sweets, fruits and dry fruits.
Sagan ceremony can be held either at the groom’s house or at a banquet hall. A havan is performed by a pundit. Thereafter, the prospective bride’s father applies Tilak (made of kesar, rice grains and flower petals) on the boy’s forehead. All the relatives and friends of the girl’s side come forward to bless the prospective groom, offer sweets to him and give him cash/gifts.
On the occasion of Chunni chadana, groom's parents and close relatives visit the bride’s house. The groom’s sister or sister in law presents the girl a red sari, as a token of acceptance of the girl in their family. Thereafter, the girl is dressed in the clothes given by the boy’s family. The main ritual of the ceremony is when the girl’s would be mother-in-law places a red chunni on the girl’s head and gives her some traditional jewelry. Following this is a ritual in which the girl is fed boiled rice and milk by all the relatives of the boy that are present at the time. The ceremony comes to an end with the exchanging of rings between the prospective bride and groom.
Sangeet is the musical program, which is held at both the bride as well as groom’s house. In the sangeet session, wedding folk songs are sung and all the relatives and friends dance to the tunes of the music. This ceremony is considered auspicious as the wedding songs are said to be full of blessings for the prospective couple. Also, this ceremony becomes amusing with interesting songs with teasing punches for the prospective couple and dance performances by every younger and elder member of the family.
Like other Hindu Weddings, Mehandi is also an important pre-wedding ritual of a Punjabi marriage. As a part of Kwar Dhoti, Mehandi is taken to the girl’s place by the boy’s sister and brother-in-law. This Mehandi is then applied to the girl’s hands and feet in beautiful motifs. Kwar Dhoti also includes dry fruits, specifically dry dates. The girl eats half of a dry date and the other half is given to the boy, this ritual is said to increase the love between the two.