BY DR PREETI TALWAR
Marriage is the beautiful blending of two lives, two loves, two hearts.
Since time immemorial Indian weddings have been arranged weddings which are solemnised in the presence of elders of the family. During ancient times the girl and boy did not meet before the wedding and all the formalities were taken care of by the elders of the family, but it was for keeps. Once a girl married, she was not a part of her family, she literally belonged to her in-laws. Modernisation, urbanisation and the onset of a nuclear family set up has brought changes in the mindset of the people. People are more flexible and are not averse to love marriages which are prevalent today. The girl and boy can meet and then only the final decision is taken on whether marriage is right for them. Our culture involves the elders of the family from match hunting to nuptials.
Love or arranged, no wedding can take place without the elders’ blessings. Punjabis are simple, fun loving people who love to live life king-size. They believe in enjoying to the hilt. Their zest for life is seen in weddings, which are colourful, loud and expressive. Being boisterous by nature, a Punjabi wedding has flavours of dancing and singing. Everyone enjoys weddings to their heart’s content.
The first step in an eventual marriage is the “bride seeing ceremony”. Relatives, friends and now Google help to locate matches. Biodata is exchanged between the boy’s and girl’s family. If something clicks, then the prospective boy and his family visit the girl’s house. It is like a formal interview where the grilling is done, lot of points are considered – age, caste, colour, education and most of all the matching of horoscopes. If all this fits, then there is an informal pre-engagement or Roka when the groom’s family gives gifts, cash and blessings to the bride-to be. After this, the boy and girl are considered engaged and can begin a courtship period when the groom’s family gives gifts, cash and blessings to the bride-to be. After this, the boy and girl are considered engaged and can begin a courtship period.
Roka is followed by Sagan and Chuni Chadana at the bride and groom’s place:
Sagan is a ritual performed at the groom’s house and here the priest performs a ‘Havan’ and people from the girl’s side are present, minus the girl. The father of the girl applies Tilak made of saffron, rice grains and flower petals on the boy’s forehead and the boy takes the blessings of his would-be father-in-law. The rest of the girl’s relatives feed the boy sweetmeats and present him with cash.
Chunni Chadana is a ritual performed at the girl’s place and the boy’s relatives minus the boy go to the girl’s place, the boy’s sister or sister-in-law gifts a red saree to the girl, as a token of acceptance into their family. The girl is then dressed in the saree and the would-be mother-in-law places a Red Chunni or veil on the girl’s head and gives her the family heirlooms and jewellery. Then she feeds her would be daughter-in-law boiled rice and milk.
The wedding celebrations begin with the engagement ceremony, held a week to ten days before the wedding (depending on the number of functions to follow) in which the family of the girl visits that of the boy’s carrying beautifully wrapped gifts and the tikka material: a silver tray with a few grains of rice and saffron in a tiny silver bowl, 14 chuharey (dried dates) covered with silver foil and a coconut wrapped in a gold leaf. The father of the girl applies ‘tikka’ on his son-in-law’s forehead and gives him his blessings and some money. In return, the girl’s family receives baskets of seven dried fruits: almonds, cashew nuts, chuahara, coconut pieces, raisins, khurman (dried apricots) and phoolmakhana, at the kudmai (sagai or engagement).
The Sangeet is a musical party generally arranged by the bride’s family. Traditionally, the ladies of the family get together and sit surrounding the bride. Together they make merry by singing folk wedding songs, teasing the bride, and dancing. The groom and a few of his family members are also invited to participate. Nowadays, the sangeet is a gala event when both the families get together to enjoy a fun-filled musical evening. Groups from both sides present dance performances that are often choreographed by experts. It’s basically a great opportunity for the families to get acquainted with each other.
The girl’s family plays the dholki (an elongated tabla) sings songs in which they tease the boy and his family, telling them to thank their stars as they were lucky to find such a wonderful girl, who they probably didn’t deserve! All this is in jest, of course, but they take care not to get carried away. After this, it’s the boy’s turn to retaliate, which they do in another sangeet function hosted by them. Though these are the traditional sangeets, many families opt for live bands or disc jockeys. Punjabis love gyrating to the music, all age groups join and let their hair down. It is the time to make merry.
Dr Preeti Talwar is a science doctorate, proofreader, freelance writer. She believes in wielding the pen and laddle with elan. Published in print and digital media. Published in The Chicken Soup Series, Bonobology, Women’s Web, Your Story.Com, Thrive Global, Sheroes, Planet Spark, Readers Digest, National Dailies & Newsnviews.online. Writing is an adrenaline booster for her.