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The actual religious marriage ceremony - among Sikhs and Muslim the weddings are conducted in Punjabi or Urdu; among Hindus, the wedding is often conducted in Sanskrit. There are commonalities in ritual, song, dance, food, and dress. The Punjabi wedding has many rituals and ceremonies that have evolved since traditional times, including many famous Punjabi dances.
Important wedding songs
Songs of the bridegroom's side
- Mangane di geet: sung at the time of engagement
- Maneve de gaon: songs sung to welcome the bridegroom
- Gharouli de geet: sung for the gharoult or dowry
- Chounki charanvele de geet: songs sung when the bridegroom sits on the chounki wooden bathing seat
- Sohhle: songs of happiness and joy
- Ghoriyaan: sung at the time of riding to the bride s house
- Sehra: sung at the time of tying the bridegrooms flower-veil
- Kangana: sung when the bride and bridegroom enter the house together for the first time.
Songs of the bride's side
- Suhag: which is sung by the bride in praise of her parents and the happy days of her childhood and in anticipation of happy days ahead.
- Jaggo: procession song to call the neighbours to the wedding.
- Churra charan vele da geet: sung when the chura, ceremonial bangles are worn by the bride.
- Janj: sung when the janj, marriage procession, is to be greeted.
- Milni: sung at the ritual introduction of the two sides.
- Ghenne de geet: sung when the bride is adorned with jewels.
- Siftan: song in praise of the bridegroom
- Chhandh: evolved from poetry, songs of joy.
Sitthniyan (crude, teasing songs)
- Song sung when the bridegroom's procession is being welcomed.
- Song sung when the wari, or gifts from the bridegroom’s side, are being exhibited.
- Song sung when the groom's party sits down to the meal.
- Song sung when the daaj, dowry or the bridal gifts, are being displayed.
- Lavan Phere :sung at the time of the actual wedding ritual.
- Mahinya :sung when the girl is preparing for the wedding and is bathed by the women at home. It goes for both men and women.
- Vedi de geet : sung while erecting the marriage pandal.
- Khatt: sung at the time the maternal grandparents present gifts to the bride on an overturned tokra, or basket.
- Pani vaarna: welcoming the bride to her new home.
- Bidaigi: sung when the bride is being sent off in the doli.
- Ghughrian: sung when the doli arrives at the groom s house.
- Shahana: sung by mirasis in praise of the bridegroom.
- Til Methre: sung while welcoming the bride and orienting her to the family.
- Pattal: song sung before meal.
Rokka: In this ceremony, the boy and the girl commit to enter a wedlock, and won't consider any more matrimonial proposals. Ardaas is done, followed by exchange of gifts.
Mangni: The Engagement. Usually very high profile. This when the boys' side of the family goes to the girls' side with gifts, jewellery, and other goods, to confirm the engagement. Usually even an exchange of rings takes place.
Dholki: Can be one day or many days, usually high profile in a banquet hall, ladies sings traditional songs, and it is the eastern version of the western Bridal shower. Nowadays people hire DJs and have a dance party followed by dinner.
Mehndi: The Mehandi ceremony takes place in the atmosphere of a party. The bride and other ladies get mendhi (henna designs) done, on their hands and feet (most ladies get it done only on their hands but the bride gets it done on both hands and feet). For the bride the mendhi is sent by the future Mother in Law.
Shagun: Shagun or Shagan is the first ceremony which marks the commence of activities, where the two families exchange gifts to conform the engagement.
Ubtan: This ritual demands that the bride-to-be stay at home in her old clothes for a couple of days before her wedding. Before her bath, ubtan (a paste of powdered turmeric and mustard oil) is applied on her body by female relatives and friends. Both, the ghara ghardoli and the ubtan ceremonies are also performed for the groom at his house. Here the decorated pitcher of water (ghadoli) is brought for his bath by his bhabi (elder brother's wife).
Rut Jugga: The Rut Jugga ceremony is where the family dances and sings in the beautifully decorated wedding home. Rut Jugga is in the last hours of the night. They decorate copper vessels called "gaffers" with diyas (clay lamps) and fill them with mustard oil and light them. The bride/bridegrooms maternal aunt (mammi) carries it on her head, and another lady will have a long stick with bells, and she will be shaking it. The ladies will then go into other friends and families homes and be welcomed by sweets and drinks, they will then dance there and move on. It is a loud ceremony, filled with joy, dancing, fireworks, and food. And if the family wishes the ladies' dholki (ladies night of singing) and mendhi will follow the mayian and dinner.
Sarbala/Shabbala: A young nephew or cousin also dons similar attire. He is called the sarbala/shabbala (caretaker of the groom) and accompanies him .
Sehrabandi: his relatives bless his sehra or turban.
Varna: The groom's bhabi lines his eyes with surma (kohl). After this, the groom's sisters and cousins feed and decorate his mare. varna, a ceremony that is supposed to ward off the evil eye. The cash is given away to the poor.
Milni: (means "Introductions") The Ardas is performed by the priest (Giani) followed by the formal introductions of the main male players in the families. Example is both eldest Chachas (father's younger brother) will come together and exchange garlands of flowers and money. After or during the wedding, ladies will do the same thing, but a much smaller affair.
Jaimala: After Milni, the bride and groom come in the middle of the circle where the family is standing, and place a heavily made garland made of flowers on each other to state, they accept each other and will love and live together with one and other.
Pheress/Lavan: Depending on a Hindu Punjabi Wedding Hindus around the Agni, (sacred fire) seven times at the set intervals. In a Sikh Wedding, the Bride and Groom will walk in tow around the Guru Granth Sahib four times at the set intervals.
Juta chhupai. This is when the girl's young relatives grab the groom's untended shoes and hide it away to be returned after the ceremony for a fee which is Kalecharis of gold for the bride's sisters and of silver for her cousins. This joyful custom is called juta chhupai.
Vidaai/Doli: Vidaai marks the departure of the bride from her parental house. As a custom, the bride throws phulian or puffed rice over her head. The ritual conveys her good wishes for her parents. Her brother’s accompany the bride. Her relatives throw coins in the wake of this procession.
Rituals Observed at the Groom's House:
Pani vaarna. The groom's mother performs the traditional aarti with a pitcher of water. She makes seven attempts to drink the water from the pitcher. The groom must allow her to succeed only at the seventh attempt. The bride must, with her right foot, kick the mustard oil that is put on the sides of the entrance door before she enters the house.
Phera Dalna: the newly weds visit the bride's parents on the day after the wedding. The bride’s brother usually fetches them.