I’m writing this article in lieu of my cousins wedding, more of a way to document the event but also to give my insights and tips on customs at a big fat punjabi wedding!
1. Unlimited food
Get ready to put on a few pounds over a weeks long wedding celebrations – punjabi food isn’t the heathiest so be prepared to be constantly fed with Samosas’, Pakoreh, Laddoos, Barfi and other mitai (indian sweets) and Patoreh by Aunties you can’t say no to.
2. Lots of Dancing
There’s endless prewedding celebrations, and if you are immediate family it’s hard to get away from dancing. You’ll be pulled up to dance at the ladies sangeet for giddah, the jago at the pre wedding party and won’t leave the dance floor due to wanting to win the dance off on the wedding day.
3. Constant questions on when your wedding will be?
Maybe when I find that boy?!? Although I knew it was coming, I wasn’t mentally prepared to be asked by several different aunties whether I was single and looking and when my wedding would be? Punjabi’s love to be matchmakers (it’s lucky I’ve been told), and I had endless aunties telling me they know someone who knows someone who may have a boy with a pulse who could be a suitable match.
4. Language skills
My punjabi isn’t up to scratch, and needless to say there were a lot of international guests who didn’t speak English. It meant I had to pick up a language I hadn’t fluently spoken in 10 years pretty quickly, but there were often instances where I’d ask the bibi’s “Tusi Cha peeni (would you like tea?)” where I thought the answer was yes but often was No. #lostintranslation
5. International Guests
There’s loads of them, and when you are a designated driver you’ll be doing a lot of ferrying around, airport pick ups and drop offs. However, this is overridden by the fact I got to meet family I’d either never met or hadn’t seen in 20 years!
6. Expect a week of celebrations
However much you think you can get away without taking time off work, it’s unrealistic. An indian wedding starts a week before the actual big day. It begins with the kharahi which means the drying of sweet and savoury snacks, this symbolises the start of the wedding festivities.
This is followed by the miaya- a cleaning ritual where all members of the family clean the bride and groom with tumeric powder to ensure they have that yellow glow on the day.
Following this there are several other customs:
- The nankishak where the mother of the groom/brides family arrive at the family home bearing gifts, there is also a lot of banter here where grandmas from both sides cuss each other and have a punjabi style rap battle.
- The Ladies Sangeet ~ all the women in the family gather which seems like their annual night out. They sing bholiyeh (old folk songs) very out of tune and screechily. Whatever floats their boat hey…
- Pre-wedding party ~ this is an excuse to have a huge party just before the wedding. This is an opportunity for most of the family to drink and eat as much as they can so they don’t embarrass themselves on the big day. There’s always that one uncle so drunk he can’t walk as he’s abused the open bar.
- Jago ~ This is a custom where in the old days people would sing to tell the village there is a wedding going on. The nanki start the dancing with candle lanterns on their heads and making lots of noise with dhols, shakers and sticks. This often happens during the prewedding party.
9. Wedding attire
Wondering what to wear? Anything bright will do, the brighter the better. You’ll need a collection of punjabi suits for the lead up, but for the prewedding and wedding day it’s like a fashion show. The blingier the better. Girls often use the day as their equivalent of the Grammys. Who wore what, or who wore it better? The dance floor is their runway. Who knows punjabi girls may be trying to attract all those eligible bachelors too.
If you don’t like Bhangra you may as well not show up to the reception. Punjabi’s love their Bhangra, and the DJ will blast out all those punjabi classics. Be prepared for a dance off between the bride and grooms side and to have very sore feet from too much dancing. You’ll also often find the groom and close family members lifted up on shoulders for extra dance floor etiquette. I’d say we won this one at our cousins wedding, my new bhabi (sister in law) won’t be happy to hear this.
No punjabi wedding goes without a week long worth of drinking at home, followed by an open bar at the wedding reception. Punjabi’s love their drink and are big on their drinking culture. A wedding is the perfect excuse for uncles to celebrate like they are 21 again.
Disclaimer: Sorry for the poor quality photos – I was too busy enjoying myself & dancing during our family wedding that I had a lack of photographic evidence!