Punjabi wedding traditions are a strong reflection of Punjabi culture with ritual, song, dance, food, and dress that have evolved over centuries.Usually the ceremonies are conducted in Punjabi language but the language of the religious portion may vary, such as, Arabic for Muslims.The couple commit to enter into wedlock and to refuse other proposals of marriage. Ardaas is said and gifts are exchanged.
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It is an unofficial engagement ceremony where the groom’s family and friends come give presents, money and blessings to the bride to be. The origin of this ceremony lies in the arranged marriage norm where the parents would let out the world that they are looking for a suitable match for their son or daughter. And once they had found that match, their search had come to an end. Though rings are not exchanged, the couple stand unofficially engaged after this ceremony.
Engagement is a significant part of a Punjabi wedding. The bride’s family visits the groom’s family with gifts to confirm the engagement.
Approximately a week before the wedding the sagai ceremony is held, in which a tikka forehead mark is applied. The bride’s family visits the groom’s family bringing gifts, the paste for the tikka mark and a silver tray with a few grains of rice and saffron in a small silver bowl, 14 dried dates (chuharey) wrapped in silver foil and a coconut wrapped in gold leaf. The bride’s father applies the mark to the groom’s forehead, blesses him and gives him some money.
There is a sangeet function hosted by the girl’s family, in which just a few close members of the boy’s family are invited. The girl’s family play the dholak drums and sing songs in which they tease the boy and his family. Nowadays people hire DJs and have a dance party followed by dinner. A ladies sangeet is held for the bride and her bridesmaids.
The last major function before the wedding is decoration with temporary henna (mehndi) tattoos. Mehndi artists are called to the houses of the boy and girl and apply mehendi to the palms of the female family members, and the hands and feet of the bride. A basket containing Bindi and bangles is handed around so girls can choose those that match the outfit they plan to wear to the wedding.