To start with, Sikhism is a religion and Punjabi means one who belongs from Punjab state. To the uninitiated, a Punjabi wedding and its ritual are different from a Sikh wedding and its rituals. As Sikhism originated in Punjab, it would be appropriate to say that most Sikhs are Punjabi and speak the Punjabi language. Also, a Punjabi can be a Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and so on. Now as that is clear, so lets proceed to understand the traditions and rituals of a Sikh pre-wedding ceremony.
SIKH PRE-WEDDING RITUALS
The engagement ceremony of a Sikh wedding is called Kurmai.
It starts with the reading of the entire Sikh scripture that is the “Guru Granth Sahib”, which is considered to be the revealed Word of God spoken through Sikh Gurus and other blessed Saints. The Holy Words contained in the Scripture is called Gurbani, which literally means 'from the Guru's mouth'.
The ritual of deciding an auspicious date for the wedding follows this. The couple exchange rings during this time and both families exchange gifts and sweets as a mark of respect and joy. It’s a sure shot way of adding many extra calories to your waistline if you are part of the ceremony.
On completion of the engagement, the next ritual that follows is called the “Chunni Chadai”. A little background about Chunni – It’s a long scarf that’s part of the woman’s dress and is used to cover their head as a mark of respect and modesty.
In Sikh culture, the Chunni has been as important to a woman as the turban has been to a man.
During the ceremony, the would-be Mother-In-Law covers the brides head with Chunni and gifts her gold and jewellery as well.
Maiya (cleansing and purifying)
This is a very important part of the marriage and starts 2 days before the wedding day. It’s performed totally 3 times and there are elaborate rituals to be followed during the Maiya ceremony.
The Vatna that is a turmeric and oil paste is applied to the bride and the groom during this time.
The basic essence of this ritual is to cleanse the bodies of the bride and the groom and it also marks the house of the couples as a Marriage house. This ritual brings the families and friends of the couple in very close together in a playful manner. Read our blog to find out more details about this ceremony.
The uncles of the bride lead this Traditionally, nankay (brides uncles) are the ones responsible for buying the wedding saree and jewellery for the bride and it’s a very emotional ritual in the weddings.
In this process gifts are exchanged and also a priest performs small pooja (ceremony) before exchange of gift. Its more like a formal get together before the marriage.
Mehndi and Chooda Ceremony:
Mehndi is the Hena ceremony. Chooda ceremony is done together with Mehandi. Its an age old tradition of decorating the hands of the bride and then the close friends of the bride with hena designs.
For the chooda ceremony, the bride’s maternal uncle gifts the bride with a set of red and white bangles that are to be dipped in milk before presenting. There is another set of golden ornaments called Kalires that are tied to the bangles that are mark of a bride who is to be married. The Kalire is used to shower the luck of the bride to a bridesmaid who the bride wishes to be married soon.
Also Gana is another Sikh ritual done in a sikh wedding where a red thread is tied to the bride’s left and groom’s right hand. This is done to protect the couple from all bad vibes and negative emotions
In this ritual, the couples sister-in-laws bring in holy water from the Gurudwara for the couple to take bath using this water. The name of the ritual is based on the earthen pot that is used to carry the water that is called as Gharoli in Punjabi.
Once all these activities are completed, the couple is finally ready for the wedding. Read our next blog on Sikh Wedding rituals to find out what happens during the Sikh Wedding