Learn Punjabi pre-wedding traditions and ceremonies

This article is for anybody who is attending a Sikh Punjabi wedding/wedding related events and want to be better informed.

Why am I writing this article?

As a wedding photographer, I have attended and photographed many Sikh Punjabi Weddings. I have often heard many guests being curious about what's happening. They want to understand more. Many Punjabis know the ceremony but not the reason and meaning behind it. So, whether you are a Punjabi bride, a Punjabi guest or a non-Punjabi guest at a Punjabi wedding, this article will help you understand what's happening during various ceremonies, and more importantly, the meaning of the event or ceremony. Also, I have written this to better inform my non-Punjabi photographer friends.  

Well before the main events around the wedding time, there will be a number of other ceremonies that take place. These usually involve close family only and include Chunni ceremony and Kurmai. These events formalise the engagement. However, I will not go into any detail of these ceremonies. Instead I will focus on lead-up the wedding day and in a separate blog, The Wedding Day itself. This is the time when guests will be involved and also that is the time when the photographer and most likely, the videographer will be shooting and that's mostly my photography experience. 

Usually the day before the wedding is Maiyan. This event contains a series of rites including batna, choora and jaggo.

For Batna, a square rangoli design is first made on the ground using coloured powder. The design could be as creative as you want or as simple too and it is usually made by hand by relatives of the bride and groom from the maternal side. Batna is a paste made of turmeric powder and mustard oil. The rites involve female family members and friends apply the paste to the bride face and arms. Similar ceremony occurs in the groom's home as well. In the olden days, batna was applied to make the bride  and groom's faces look light and glowing. This goes back to the time when fairer skin was seen as "better". Whilst the ceremony is still carried out, the main reason is to hold on to some of the old rites.
Square rangoli design made of some plywood
A groom has some batna rubbed “to make his complexion fairer”
This bride to be is also having batna applied….very much an old ceremony remembered
Choora - is a set of red bangles given to the bride by the maternal uncle's family.This is part of the sign that this girl is about tobe married. She will wear that until after she is married
This bride to be is having her choora (red bangles) put on
Jaggo - literally translating to ‘Wake up’, Jaggo is a tradition where the relatives of the bride and groom would go around the village dancing and singing with decorated pots with diyas on them. This was a way to invite all the villagers to the wedding in olden times.
These days, Jaggo is a collaborated event with sangeet night. The bride and groom and all their relatives and friends usually dress up in colourful Punjabi clothes. The entire purpose of the Jaggo is to make noise and party, therefore, not only are pots carried on the heads but long bamboo sticks are decorated and banged on the floor. In the UK, this all usually takes place in a function hall where friends and family are invited.
As they reach the dance floor, the maternal and paternal sides of the families join in to sing mischievous folks songs to each other. This is often encouarged by the DJ. The night carries on with lots of singing and dancing and eating and drinking. 
Often the night before the wedding…this is Jaggo celebrations
Jaggo…..UK style
Both men and women get involved in celebrating Jaggo…lots of dancing
Mehndi - this ceremony usually takes place a couple of days before the wedding. Immediate female relatives and close friends of the bride are invited to take part in this tradition where henna is applied to their hands in various designs. The bride’s henna, though, is usually very detailed and more than the other ladies henna. It is applied to her hands and feet to indicate that she is the bride to be. 
Henna paste symbolises good health and prosperity in marriage. Nowadays, henna is mainly used in celebration of special occasions such as weddings and birthdays in the joyous gathering of people.
A parent and child hold henna painted hanrds
So these are the ceremonies that take place prior to a Punjabi Wedding Day. Hope you found these useful and learned something new.

There is a lot of ceremonies and rites that go on on the wedding Day. So what are the main ceremonies? Find out more here....soon