Many Punjabi wedding traditions and rituals are carried out on the morning of the wedding. After the traditional bathing, the groom dresses in the selected attire of the day. Often, grooms choose to wear Indian sherwani (formal, long coat like garment usually embroidered). All Sikh grooms traditionally wear a turban, carry a sword and are given a palla (long scarf usually in a shade of red) to wear around their neck. The palla will be used in the wedding ceremony later in the day.
Some families choose to include a sarbala (from Sanskrit roots meaning groom associate) as part of their wedding party. A sarbala, a young nephew or cousin of the groom, is his caretaker or protector for the day and accompanies him throughout the wedding. The sarbala is dressed similarly to the groom.
The surma (kohl) and sehra bandi (tying a traditional headdress) rituals take place after the groom is dressed and ready to go.
Following Punjabi wedding traditions, the groom departs his home on a decorated mare with his family and friends (the barat or janaat) singing and dancing while on route to the bride’s home for the wedding. The sarbala shares a spot on the horse with him. Today, the barat leaves the groom’s home in decorated vehicles. Once at the destination, they enjoy singing and dancing until the milni – the next ceremony of the day.
Preparing for Surma and Sehra Bandi
The groom’s bhabis (brother’s wives) put surma in the groom’s eyes. According to Punjabi wedding traditions, the application of surma is thought to ward off the evil eye. Finally, the sehra is tied to the groom’s turban by his sisters.
- Surma dani (kohl holder)
- Sehra and pins
- Whole coconut
- Money or gift
Time of Day:
Early morning, before leaving for the wedding ceremony
How it’s Done:
- After the groom is dressed, he is seated either alone or with his sarbala beside him
- The groom`s mother puts a whole coconut in the palla that is spread out and placed in his lap.
- Both of his parents place money in the palla in his lap and feed him sweets as sagan
- The groom’s bhabi either puts surma in the groom’s eyes or places a tiny mark of surma near the corner of his eye. If the groom has more than one bhabi, each take turns doing so in hierarchical order
- The women sing the associated wedding songs
- The groom’s mother then gives each bhabi money
- The groom’s sister ties the sehra to his turban while women again sing associated wedding songs
- Other guests in attendance may also now step forward and give the groom money as sagan
- As the groom leaves the house, his sisters hold the palla and follow him to the car. His mother then gives them each some money
Bachai lok your Auntyji recommends getting up early to complete all the required rituals so you can get to the wedding on time. Also, make sure you inform all of the bhabis and sisters of their duties. As in Indian culture, bhabis and sisters include cousins and cousin’s wives, so it is important to let the women know their part in this morning function. This leads to less confusion and a smoother process.