The Essential Guide to Punjabi Wedding Customs

Ever been confused by the number of tiny rituals at a Punjabi wedding? Or are you under the misconception that Punjabi weddings are only about the extravaganza? Read on to know about the rituals of a Punjabi wedding, along with their significance..


The very first step, the roka or thaka is an extremely informal ceremony of engagement. The roka ceremony is the establishment of the bride and groom’s desire to marry each other. Once their respective families mandate the relationship, the roka ceremony is held at either the bride or the groom’s place. It is an intimate ceremony, involving the parents and close relatives on both sides. The bride’s family gifts the groom’s family a bunch of things, especially dry fruit and sweets, and vice versa. The ceremony is concluded with a feast.


Photograph by Banga Studios


While the roka involves only very close members of the family, and is an informal engagement, the chunni ceremony is a rather lavish ceremony where the bride is gifted a red outfit (usually a bright red, heavily embroidered salwar kameez), which she changes into. The families exchange gifts, but more emphasis is placed on the bride, who is showered with jewellery, and especially a red chunni by the groom’s mother and sisters. In some cases, the groom is also expected to fill the bride’s hair parting with sindoor.

chunni - coolbluez

Photograph by Coolbluez Photography


The sagai, or the formal engagement, involves the exchange of rings in a lavish affair, with friends and distant relatives in attendance, apart from the close family. The sagai is a ceremony that involves a huge feast, since friends and family from afar are expected to attend.

engagement - coolbluez

Photograph by Coolbluez Photography


The mehendi ceremony, and the ladies sangeet is perhaps one of the most fun-filled affairs of an Indian wedding. Women on both sides of the families- the bride and groom’s- get the palms of their hands painted with henna, as they dance away to popular music and gorge on scrumptious desi-ghee infused snacks. The ceremony is significant for preparing the bride for her wedding. Traditionally, this is when the popular Punjabi folk dance, gidda, was performed, alongside a dholki, though the energetic dance has now given way to Bollywood performances.


Photograph by Cupcake Productions


This lesser known ritual is deeply significant as it is known to be a carrier of good luck for the bride and groom on their wedding day. It is the very first ritual of the wedding day. A priest ties a mauli, or a sacred red thread, on the wrists of the bride and groom, in their respective homes. The couple is supposed to wear the thread throughout, a violation of which is supposed to bring bad luck!

mauli - tarun

Photograph by Tarun Chawla Photography

Choodha Chadhana

This ceremony involves gifting the bride 21 red and ivory coloured bangles by her maternal uncles. Immediately after the kangna-bandhna, the bride and the elder sit around a havan. The maternal uncles place the bangles, which have been purified in a concoction of rose water and milk, on the bride’s wrists. The bride is not supposed to see the bangles as she is being made to wear them- she only sees them later in the day.


Photograph by Tarun Chawla Photography


The bride is gifted embellishments that hang from her bangles. These heavy embellishment, or kalire, are gifted to her by her sisters and friends. The bride then shakes her hands above the heads of her friends, and if a bit of the kalire falls on the heads of any of them, they are supposed to get married next. The entire ceremony is fun-filled and informal.

kalire - tarun

Photograph by Tarun Chawla Photography


Photograph by Tarun Chawla Photography

This is the essential guide on fun and colorful rituals that make an Indian punjabi wedding.

chooda - tarun

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