What goes down at a Malaysian Punjabi wedding

An interesting take on Punjabi weddings in Malaysia by SANDEEP DHANOA published at a Malaysian website Rojak Daily.

Opinion | Malaysia | 14 Dec 2016 | Asia Samachar |
I think she missed a spot! The turmeric paste leaves the skin of the bride glowing, perfect for those million dollar wedding photos. (Image: Cosmin Danila Photography)

By Sandeep Dhanoa

The clock strikes 10pm, and the dance floor opens. Spirited bhangra beats fill the air, accompanied with a rhythmic double headed drum, or better known as the dhol. This gets the patiala peg (whiskey shots)-infused bloodstream of the crowd up and running, as they get up on their feet and dance away the hearty helping of juicy mutton that was piled onto their plates about an hour or two ago.

To the eyes of the outside world, this pretty much sums up a Punjabi wedding. However, a Punjabi Sikh will tell you that there is so much more to this colourful celebration than the above stereotype. Here’s the real lowdown on a Malaysian Punjabi wedding:

What is a Punjabi wedding?

First and foremost, in Punjabi families, a marriage is not just about ‘the bonding of two souls’ – it is a bonding between two families. And by families, we mean extended families. So your mum’s sister’s husband’s brother’s daughter is now your cousin. There goes all your hope of telling her that you find her attractive.

A Punjabi wedding is best explained by breaking it down to four main rituals, each of them representing a celebration within a celebration. Hence, with all of these elaborate and exciting celebrations to be held, it is no surprise to see a Punjabi wedding spanning at least three to four days, more commonly from Thursday to Sunday.

Turmeric Thursday (Morning)

The Maiyan aka Oil Ceremony: This function is performed separately at the homes of the bride and the groom. This cleansing and purifying ceremony marks the start of the extravagant wedding celebrations. Here, oil is brushed on the hair of the bride and groom. Meanwhile, turmeric paste is gently smeared all over their bodies.

Tipsy Thursday (Evening)

The Sangeet aka Musical Night: This is arguably the best part in any Punjabi wedding. It’s a night of singing, dancing, eating and partying before the marriage ritual is carried out. If you are planning on letting your hair down, this is it. This colourful night begins with the female relatives and close female friends of the bride and groom singing classic Punjabi folk songs. Here’s a must-have folk number in any sangeet, without which, it’d be like chicken biryani without the drumstick – utterly pointless:

Choora Ceremony: While the singing is going on, the maternal uncle of the bride arrives to complete the choora ceremony. Here, the uncle gifts the bride traditional red and white coloured wedding choora (bangles). Soon enough, the crowd is entertained by an array of thumping performances from families of the bride and groom.

A Punjabi wedding summed up in one image – colourful, joyous and of course, there’s the bhangra. Next, the dance floor opens and the partying begins. Adrenalised kids, enthusiastic teenagers, the robust male wolf pack, the sassy spice girls, fashionable aunties, tipsy uncles, adorable old couples and the beautiful bride and groom fill up the buzzing dance floor and bhangra away like there is no tomorrow.

Fatigued Friday

With Thursday’s sangeet shenanigans behind us, Friday is usually put to good use for some well-deserved R&R. Go easy on your feet as they have undoubtedly been overworked on the dance floor, and get in that crucial beauty sleep for Saturday’s big day. And as for the uncles who spent the entire night hogging the bar (if there was any), well, your bed will be your sanctuary for the rest of the day.

Sacred Saturday

The Milni Ceremony: This brings us to the pinnacle of a Punjabi wedding, the wedding ceremony itself. Commonly held on a Saturday, the Anand Karaj wedding ceremony takes place in a local Gurdwara, the Sikh place of worship. The ceremony kicks off in the morning as the groom makes his way to the Gurdwara while accompanied by family, friends and his sarbala (best man). Upon arrival, the milni ceremony takes place. Next, the families of the bride and groom are treated to a delectable Punjabi breakfast. Following the generous treat, guests make their way into the Gurdwara darbar sahib (prayer hall), and wait for the bride to walk in, accompanied by her family members.

The Anand Karaj aka Wedding Ceremony

There are four stanzas to be recited from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (the Sikh holy book). Better known as the lavan, each of these represents a vow to be taken and upheld by the couple. Hence, the bride and groom circumambulate the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji on four occasions. Upon completion of this blissful ceremony, the couple are now finally wed.

Doli Di Vaddai: After the blissful Anand Karaj and the wedding lunch, the newlyweds make their way to the bride’s home for the doli di vaddai. Here, the married couple are given blessings by the family members of the bride, as the groom has now arrived to take his bride to her new home.

Slick Sunday

The Wedding Reception: The wedding reception marks the end of the extravagant Punjabi wedding celebration. Here, there are no specific rules and rituals to be carried out, except for three: look your best, feed your guest and bhangra with the rest.

So there you have it, a look into a colourful and vibrant Malaysian Punjabi wedding. A perfect blend of tradition as well as celebration that promises to put a smile on the faces of its attendees.

P.S. For the bhangra virgins out there, remember to always warm up your shoulders before hitting the dance floor. Trust us on that, because it is all about the shoulders.

In India, family members would go around the village carrying the Jaago, as it is seen as a symbol of invitation to the upcoming wedding.

With hungry bellies being well fed during dinner, the jaago soon arrives. Carried on the heads of the female relatives of the bride and groom, the arrival of this uniquely decorated pot leads to the men emptying their pockets and dancing along.

See original story here.


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  1. Apologies for my comments if anyone feels offended but the comments are based on what is observed and personal experience.

    Gur Fateh

  2. Sadly I could not identify any of the beauties with Sikhism as only one was dressed or looked like a Sikh. Western fashions appear to have colonized the mind set of the world’s fair sex including Sikh beauties.
    Gur Fateh

  3. Punjabi wedding functions were remembered in the past more for the free liquor and wasted food with rubbish everywhere and finally the bad/rude/wild behavior of some of the guests. It was for these reasons that owners of several public hall banned the usage of their halls for Sikh/Punjabi dinner functions.
    The first to impose this rule was DBKL and later the Chinese Hall on the hill in Jalan Syed Putra, KL.
    The Tatt Khalsa Diwan provided a hall for such functions but not many used them for reasons which may be commonly known but not many may want to admit or voice.
    The parents of the groom demanded liquor and non-veg food from the bride side to entertainment their wedding party members [Janjis]. This reminded me of the shabad by Guru Nanak Ji in the case of Mogul invader Babar.
    My only prayer is that the Sikhs revert to the teachings of the Guru Jis and keep the wedding ceremonies simple and not used to extract the maximum from the bride’s families.
    Gur Fateh