The following rituals are performed in a punjabi wedding.
The Roka ceremony where the boy and girl give their commitment to get married to each other is performed at the house of the bride-to-be. So the family and relatives of the prospective groom must go to her house for the ceremony. The ceremony consists of a simple puja conducted by a purohit.
Sagan and chunni chadana
The ceremonies are combined together, usually conducted in a banquet hall or a club. The purohit performs a havan. The father of the bride-to-be applies tilak on the forehead of the groom-to-be. The bride is dressed in clothes and jewellery that have been presented to her by her future in-laws. She is also presented a red chunni by the sister/sister-in-law of her future husband. She receives more jewellery and gifts from her in-laws as part of the ceremony. The prospective bride and groom exchange rings.
The families of the prospective bride and groom hold a special sangeet session. Friends and close family members are invited and traditional wedding songs are sung.
The henna is sent by the future mother-in-law of the bride-to-be. A relative, friend or a professional mehandiwali applies henna for the bride-to-be. The girl friends and close female relatives of the bride-to-be sing and dance joyously while the mehandi is being applied to her.
The maternal uncle of the bride-to-be plays an important role in this ceremony. The oldest maternal uncle and aunt as well as the girl's parents usually fast throughout the day or at least until the completion of this ceremony. The purohit performs a havan. After the puja, the chuda (a set of red and cream ivory bangles) are touched by all present to signify their blessings and good wishes for the bride-to-be. The bride must slip the chuda on her wrist. This is followed by an iron bangle (for good luck) with shells and beads, and a mauli that the pandit ties around her wrist. Flower petals are showered on the girl after the ceremony and prasad is distributed among all. The girl's maternal uncle and aunt, friends and cousins tie kaliras.
The bride is dressed by her mother, female relatives and friends amid much gaiety. She may wear a sari or a lehenga in traditional colours like red, orange or magenta.
The groom dresses in formal attire, which may be traditional or western. A young nephew or cousin also dons similar attire.
A puja is performed after the groom dons his wedding attire. His sehra or turban is blessed by his relatives, as is the silver mukut or crown that goes on top of the turban. At the end of the ceremony, those present bless the groom and give him gifts or cash.
The milni ceremony takes place when the groom's procession reaches the wedding venue. The groom and his relatives are welcomed with flower garlands by the bride's close relatives.
The girl's relatives give shagoon to the groom's close relatives, beginning with his grandfather, father, uncles and brothers. The shagoon usually consists of cash and is given to honour the relatives.
The bride and groom exchange garlands during this ceremony. Those present indulge in much teasing and festivity to mark this happy occasion. Often, this ceremony acts as an effective ice-breaker for the nervous bride and her groom.
The wedding puja
The mahurat or auspicious time for the wedding ceremony is usually set after dinner. When the mahurat approaches, the purohit first performs a puja for the groom. The groom chants a few mantras. 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. Kalecharis gold for the bride's sisters and silver for her cousins. The puorms another puja with the couple and their parents. The bride is given away by her father in a ceremony called the kanyadaan. This is followed by the pheras. The bride and groom go around the sacred fire with the bride's sari tied to the groom's pagdi with the help of the red chunni used in the ghara ghardoli ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the newly-weds touch the feet of the groom's parents and the elders present to take their blessings.
Vidaai marks the departure of the bride from her parental house. She throws phulian or puffed rice over her head. She conveys her good wishes for her parents through this gesture. A beautifully decorated palanquin or car takes her to her new home. She is usually accompanied by her brother. Her relatives throw coins in the wake of this procession.
Reception at the boy's house
The newly weds are welcomed in a ceremony called the pani bharna. 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 sarson ka tel (mustard oil) that is put on the sides of the entrance door before she enters the house. Along with her husband, she must offer puja in their room. Then they must touch the feet of the elders in a ceremony called matha tekna.