The bride’s house is a very busy place the night before the wedding as a number of Punjabi bridal traditions and rituals take place. Family and friends are gathered to either perform or witness the choora ceremony and await the formal bath time of the bride. As the bride is bathing, the women gather together to sing wedding songs related to the event.
Both the bathing and choora ceremony can be held on the same night as maiyan are done.
Traditional Bridal Bath
The first bridal ritual the night before the wedding is the bridal bath. The traditional custom was to have the sisters of the bride get water from the well of the local gurdwara for bathing the bride, which was done after midnight. Today, water from bathing facilities in one’s home is usually used for this purpose.
The bath takes place just before the choora ceremony. Once the bride is dressed in a brand new outfit, the maternal uncle carries – this can be as brief as picking the bride up for a quick second – the bride out of the bathing area.
Preparing for Bridal Bath
- New outfit for the bride (salvar kameez)
Time of Day:
8:00pm or later
How it’s Done:
- The bride bathes and dresses in her new outfit
- While she is bathing, the women sing traditional wedding songs that fit the occasion, for example, Aaj Savarah Koi Karma Valai Navai.
- The maternal uncle drapes the phulkari over the bride’s head and shoulders and carries her out of the bathroom. Rather than literally carry, this can be as brief as picking the bride up for a quick second
- He then escorts her out of the bathroom to where the choora ceremony is about to take place
The final Punjabi bridal tradition of the night is the choora ceremony. Choora are wedding bangles worn by the bride. Traditionally, brides wore 21 red and ivory coloured bangles on each arm, but now brides choose the number of bangles they would like to wear. As is considered auspicious in Indian tradition, the number on each arm should be an odd number.
In the past, chooras were worn up to one year after the wedding. They either broke off through daily wear and tear or at the one year mark, the groom removed them. Today, they are worn for as long as the bride decides to keep them on. In respect for the tradition, some brides ask their husband to break or remove one bangle and then she removes the rest.
The wedding choora is given to the bride by her maternal uncle or uncles. The uncle or uncles are also the ones who put the bangles on the bride. The bride can choose the design and should be involved in selecting the appropriate size, but the maternal uncles are responsible for buying the choora. Once the choora is on the bride, kalira (dangly gold ornaments) can be tied onto it by the sisters of the bride.
Preparing for Choora Ceremony
- Choora given by maternal uncle
- Money as sagan
- Mixture of milk and water
- Indian sweets place on a tray
Time of Day:
Night time just after the bridal bath
How it’s Done:
- Soak or wash the choora in the milk and water combination.
- Place a blanket (chaadar) on the ground
- Sit the bride on the chaadar
- Have bride’s maternal uncles and their wives, if they are married, carry in the bowl with the choora and sweets
- Taking three to four bangles at a time, the maternal uncle begins to place the choora on the bride. If there is more than one maternal uncle, each uncle, in hierarchical order, takes turns doing this
- After the choora is completely put on the bride’s arms, each uncle (and his wife) feed the bride a bite of the sweet and giver her money
- Other guests in attendance may also now step forward and give the bride money as sagan
Bachai lok your Auntyji recommends these rituals be done as early in the night as possible. Some families perform these Punjabi bridal tradition after midnight on the day of the wedding, but as the next day will be extremely busy and an early start, perhaps having this completed earlier would benefit all involved.
If the bride’s home has been bustling with maiyan and mehndi parties throughout the week leading up to the wedding, the night before can also be kept small so only the actual parties required to do the rituals are asked to come. This ensures traditional practises are followed and bride and her family are somewhat rested on the wedding day.