In this series I will share with you stories of other's, who like myself, have married into the Punjabi Culture and celebrated their own Big Fat Punjabi-Sikh Wedding. Though firstly there is some confusion around the difference between a Sikh and Punjabi Wedding merely because many weddings happen to predominately be Punjabi-Sikh Weddings.
Therefore to clarify, Punjab is a state of India in which many different faiths exist not only that of Sikhism. Which means not every Punjabi Wedding will necessarily be of the Sikh Faith, celebrating the same wedding traditions. Sikhism is a religion that originated in the state of Punjab. So whilst majority of Punjabi's are Sikh's, not every Punjabi will be. Hence why many weddings will be Punjabi-Sikh Weddings given they both are of the Sikh Faith and were born a Punjabi. Though even a Punjabi-Sikh Wedding can be referred to as either just a Sikh Wedding or Punjabi Wedding.
Even so, the rituals and traditions of a Punjabi-Sikh Wedding can vary greatly between regions and family. Therefore even the most common traditions can differ in how they are celebrated and is usually a personal preference as to which traditions are participated in. Though for the most part many are quite similar.
My Big Fat Punjabi-Sikh Wedding Story
Krista & Amandeep
I started working for a website development company in 2015 as a Project Manager. I thought it was just going to be a job, but little did I know that it would drastically change my entire life. I worked closely with the Lead Developer, Amandeep, who was part of our remote team in India. He always: was very friendly and polite; spent time on small talk before getting down to business; remembered things I had told him before about my interests or family; and lastly got my projects done really fast to impress me.
I had no idea he had a crush on me until my coworkers started saying, "Can you use your special relationship with Aman to get this task done for me?" Then it dawned on me that maybe he was a little more friendly with me than everyone else. We soon started talking more intimately about our thoughts, principles, hopes, dreams, and everything in between. He quickly became the person I wanted to tell a new joke to or send a picture of a cute dog I'd seen and even the person I wanted to share my vulnerable, secret feelings with.
I knew he loved me deeply, but I was afraid if he was only in love with the idea of me. Near the end of 2017, I flew to India to meet him. We took a three-week tour of India together from Punjab to Kerala. Aman saw me at my best, climbing atop an old fort and at my worst, vomiting into a hotel toilet. Delhi belly is rough, ya'll! Still, he loved me - the real me, and he proposed to me after we visited the Taj Mahal. I said yes, and a mere four months later, I moved to India because I couldn't stand to be away from him.
What Was Involved In Planning Your Wedding?
Our wedding was in India. Aman and I decided to break our ceremony up into two parts. We decided to have a small religious ceremony right away so that we could start on his visa application. The remaining festivities would then happen towards the end of 2018, to allow my friends and family time to save up travel money and vacation time. Our "small" ceremony kept growing larger and larger as his family planned the event. I had been imagining something similar to signing a marriage certificate at the courthouse with our immediate families, but understated is not an option with Indian families.
I was fortunate enough to have my parents and siblings spend a week in India. It felt a little unfair that his grandma would be there but not mine. So Aman promised me a third event when we finally make it to America together. Where we can renew our vows with my family present, especially my grandparents who weren't able to fly with everyone else to the second reception. With my feelings appeased, our small ceremony grew to 60 family members in a small gurudwara. Followed by dinner and dancing with a little over 100 people at a nearby hotel.
The most confusing aspect for his family in the planning was that I wanted to save all the fun stuff for later when my friends and family could be there too. We didn't skip everything, but it was all out of order for them. The most frustrating part for me actually happened during our reception, right after our first dance. Our photographer took us out into the hallway for a photo shoot. It lasted an hour, and we missed nearly all of the dancing. They kept placing me into shy, blushing bride poses that really don't capture who I am or who we are as a couple. Plus there's an exit sign in the background of all the photos! I recommend scheduling your couple's photo shoot before the events so you don't miss them. We should have provided those instructions beforehand.
What Traditional Pre-Wedding Ceremonies Did You Celebrate?
Months after our wedding, we celebrated our pre-wedding events! Our website development company employs people all over the world, so we were grateful to have them fly in from the Netherlands, The Philippians, Israel, Australia, and more. Additionally, some of my close friends and again my immediate family, Aman's extended family, friends, and probably everyone his parents ran into on the street in the days before the ceremony, all made it for the festivities. Our numbers had blossomed from 60 to well over 300 by the end.
On the first day, we invited our global guests and close friends for The Mehndi Ceremony. It is typically an event for women only, though my guy friends wanted to participate and have henna designs too. So Aman's brothers were under strict orders not to make fun of our guests. Some of the Indian boys ended up getting henna tattoos as well. With so many people to decorate, we used henna stencils from MiHenna on some people to keep things moving along. I didn't get full bridal henna this time around, but my hands were intricately designed by a henna artist.
While everyone's henna was drying, a choreographer taught us some basic bhangra steps and put together a routine for everyone to perform at the reception. The next day, we started off bright and early with a trip to The Golden Temple and surrounding markets. We all enjoyed eating at the langar at The Golden Temple. The langar is a communal kitchen that serves free vegetarian food. Those who were brave enough then tried gol gappas from a street vendor. I'm only good for one or two, but Aman can't resist them anytime he sees them. At the market, many of our guests purchased traditional lehenga's, punjabi suits, and kurtas to wear during the reception. I sent them back to their hotels with strict instructions to take a nap as it was going to be a busy night.
Around 9pm, we started Jaago celebrations. A crowd of us danced through the streets of our neighborhood for 3 hours! We passed around the lighted matka and rhythmically beat the chaj until it broke to pieces. I gave the DJ, who was blasting music from a truck that was lighting our way, some American songs so I could dance to Bruno Mars and Beyonce. We also danced to The Wobble, and I don't know if the locals were more impressed or more confused.
At midnight we arrived back at the house to eat and drink Kingfisher's beer. I don't even know when everyone finally left because I hadn't taken my own advice for a nap earlier. On the last day of our ceremonies, we had a reception party at a function centre. It was beautifully decorated with a grand entrance way, lights, fabrics, and stacks of colors. The caterer was amazing, the food was delicious, the dancing lasted for hours though not as intensely as Jaago - I think we were all a little sore still, and our photoshoot was appropriately timed. It was a beautiful night where we could just focus on celebrating with our loved ones instead of going through any rituals.
Describe Your Wedding Day
The actual wedding day had happened months before all of those celebrations. My immediate family and Aman's local family attended. However with that said a couple of pre-wedding events did actually take place before the wedding. I had my bridal henna done without a ceremony, which merely involved me holding my arms and legs stiffly for hours while Aman fed me bites of dinner. I also received my Wedding Chura (Bangles), the night before our ceremony with my family. My younger brother seemed to relish his responsibility of forcing the bangles onto my arms.
I spent the night in my family's hotel and prepped there the next day. My short, fine hair gave the girl sent to do my makeup, some concern. But I told her not to worry as I would do it myself. She then discovered that I didn't have my ears pierced and couldn't fathom living like that! But we made it through, and she pinned my dupatta onto my traditional punjabi suit. Although most brides traditionally wear bright red, I spent days searching for a maroon fabric that would better compliment my fair skin. Learn more about The Attire Of A Punjabi Bride.
At the gurudwara, our families performed The Milni Ceremony, but no one had told my family to have shagun ready to exchange for the ceremony. However I don't think anyone minded. While the Guru Granth Sahib was read aloud, Aman and I walked around the alter four times in our laavaan ritual. Once completed, a translator gave my family a quick rundown on the promises we had made. Then we signed our marriage certificate and officially became husband and wife. Learn more about Anand Karaj The Blissful Union.
Later at the reception, we also said American vows before the bhangra started. I wrote a short piece for my dad to read about love and commitment, and Aman translated it for his dad to read for the audience in Punjabi. We traded rings and kissed on stage, something he was very nervous about doing in front of his whole family, then we danced our first dance. I wore a creamy white lehenga during the reception as an ode to American traditions, and sindoor in my non-existent hair part to indicate my new status as a married woman.
Any Advice For Those In An Interracial Relationship Who Are Planning Their Own Big Fat Punjabi-Sikh Wedding?
It's okay to take time for yourself in the rush of wedding festivities. Things happen so fast that looking back, most of those days are a blur for me. But one thing I remember clearly is sneaking off to the bedroom with my new husband to throw off my awful high heels, eat some oreos, take some selfies, and call each other Mister and Misses before we went back out into the high energy crowd of well-wishers. The little moments matter just as much as the big ones - take some time to appreciate them.
One other thing that makes the day even more of a blur, is that there will be lots of new traditions and rituals that you are suddenly a part of without understanding them. Do your research, ask questions, and decide what's important to you. Incorporate your own vision of a wedding into your new family's ideas. You'll be expected to change and adapt, so it's okay for them to do that too. At the end of the day, what matters is being together and happy.
Connect With Krista
Blog: www.borntosingh.com - The Story Of Aman & Krista
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*Images are courtesy of Krista and are original copyrighted content and cannot be used without the express written consent of Krista.