The clock strikes 10pm, and the dance floor opens. Spirited bhangra beats fill the air, accompanied with a rhythmic double headed drum, or better known as the dhol
. This gets the patiala peg
(whiskey shots)-infused bloodstream of the crowd up and running, as they get up on their feet and dance away the hearty helping of juicy mutton that was piled onto their plates about an hour or two ago.
To the eyes of the outside world, this pretty much sums up a Punjabi wedding. However, a Punjabi Sikh will tell you that there is so much more to this colourful celebration than the above stereotype. Here's the real lowdown on a Malaysian Punjabi wedding:
What is a Punjabi wedding?
First and foremost, in Punjabi families, a marriage is not just about 'the bonding of two souls' – it is a bonding between two families. And by families, we mean extended families. So your mum’s sister’s husband’s brother’s daughter is now your cousin. There goes all your hope of telling her that you find her attractive.
A Punjabi wedding is best explained by breaking it down to four main rituals, each of them representing a celebration within a celebration. Hence, with all of these elaborate and exciting celebrations to be held, it is no surprise to see a Punjabi wedding spanning at least three to four days, more commonly from Thursday to Sunday.
Turmeric Thursday (Morning)
I think she missed a spot! The turmeric paste leaves the skin of the bride glowing, perfect for those million dollar wedding photos. (Image: Cosmin Danila Photography)
The Maiyan aka Oil Ceremony
This function is performed separately at the homes of the bride and the groom. This cleansing and purifying ceremony marks the start of the extravagant wedding celebrations. Here, oil is brushed on the hair of the bride and groom. Meanwhile, turmeric paste is gently smeared all over their bodies.
Tipsy Thursday (Evening)
The Sangeet aka Musical Night
This is arguably the best part in any Punjabi wedding. It's a night of singing, dancing, eating and partying before the marriage ritual is carried out. If you are planning on letting your hair down, this is it. This colourful night begins with the female relatives and close female friends of the bride and groom singing classic Punjabi folk songs. Here's a must-have folk number in any sangeet
, without which, it'd be like chicken biryani
without the drumstick – utterly pointless:
While the singing
is going on, the maternal uncle of the bride arrives to complete the choora
ceremony. Here, the uncle gifts the bride traditional red and white coloured wedding choora
(bangles). Soon enough, the crowd is entertained by an array of thumping performances from families of the bride and groom.
In India, family members would go around the village carrying the Jaago, as it is seen as a symbol of invitation to the upcoming wedding. (Image: rainahodapearljaipur.blogspot.my)
With hungry bellies being well fed during dinner, the jaago
soon arrives. Carried on the heads of the female relatives of the bride and groom, the arrival of this uniquely decorated pot leads to the men emptying their pockets and dancing along.
A Punjabi wedding summed up in one image – colourful, joyous and of course, there’s the bhangra. (Image: Mobilemag/Pixabay)
Next, the dance floor opens and the partying begins. Adrenalised kids, enthusiastic teenagers, the robust male wolf pack, the sassy spice girls, fashionable aunties, tipsy uncles, adorable old couples and the beautiful bride and groom fill up the buzzing dance floor and bhangra away like there is no tomorrow.
With Thursday’s sangeet
shenanigans behind us, Friday is usually put to good use for some well-deserved R&R. Go easy on your feet as they have undoubtedly been overworked on the dance floor, and get in that crucial beauty sleep for Saturday’s big day. And as for the uncles who spent the entire night hogging the bar (if there was any), well, your bed will be your sanctuary for the rest of the day.
The Milni ceremony – the fathers of the bride and the groom meet, exchange garlands and share an embrace. (Image: Bellissima Photo)
The Milni Ceremony
This brings us to the pinnacle of a Punjabi wedding, the wedding ceremony itself. Commonly held on a Saturday, the Anand Karaj
wedding ceremony takes place in a local Gurdwara
, the Sikh place of worship. The ceremony kicks off in the morning as the groom makes his way to the Gurdwara
while accompanied by family, friends and his sarbala
(best man). Upon arrival, the milni
ceremony takes place. Next, the families of the bride and groom are treated to a delectable Punjabi breakfast. Following the generous treat, guests make their way into the Gurdwara darbar sahib
(prayer hall), and wait for the bride to walk in, accompanied by her family members.
The lavan ceremony – the groom wears a palla (sash) over his shoulder and the bride holds on to the opposite end. (Image: Manbir Singh/Pinterest)
The couple circumambulate the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, while the Granthi (the priest) recites a stanza from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. (Image: Cosmin Danila Photography)
The Anand Karaj aka Wedding Ceremony
There are four stanzas to be recited from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
(the Sikh holy book). Better known as the lavan,
each of these represents a vow to be taken and upheld by the couple. Hence, the bride and groom circumambulate the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
on four occasions. Upon completion of this blissful ceremony, the couple are now finally wed.
Welcome home. (Image: Ali Naqi/Pexels)
Doli Di Vaddai
After the blissful Anand Karaj
and the wedding lunch, the newlyweds make their way to the bride’s home for the doli di vaddai.
Here, the married couple are given blessings by the family members of the bride, as the groom has now arrived to take his bride to her new home.
The Wedding Reception
The wedding reception marks the end of the extravagant Punjabi wedding celebration. Here, there are no specific rules and rituals to be carried out, except for three: look your best, feed your guest and bhangra with the rest.
So there you have it, a look into a colourful and vibrant Malaysian Punjabi wedding. A perfect blend of tradition as well as celebration that promises to put a smile on the faces of its attendees.
P.S. For the bhangra virgins out there, remember to always warm up your shoulders before hitting the dance floor. Trust us on that, because it is all about the shoulders.