Monday, October 18, 2021
Punjab

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Marriage


Marriage Ceremony

Next starts the ceremony proper. Among the Hindus this ceremony is generally performed late at night and goes on till dawn. In the courtyard of the house or out in the open, a chauk of flour is drawn by the priest, and the girl and the boy are made to sit before it facing east. The family priest then chants hymns and verses from the scriptures and goes through the whole gamut of rituals, culminating in the father giving away his daughter to the boy, and the boy and the girl taking wedding vows as they go round the sacred fire.

At the conclusion of the ceremony both families exhibit to each other and the relatives, the clothes and jewellery which they have presented to the bride. The gifts brought by the boy's family are called Vari and those given by the girl's parents are called Daaj (Dowry). Daaj also includes clothes for the bridegroom, his parents, and his other near relatives.

The next ceremony after the marriage is the bride's departure, the Doli (palanquin). To the accompaniment of the songs of separation, the Doli is sent away. At the time of parting, the parents of the girl and her brothers and sisters present a touching sight, moved at separation from one so dear.

 In some villages even today a maid servant, generally the Nain( barber's wife) is sent with the bride. She is there to help the girl in case she is faced with any difficulties in her new environments. Moreover, when the Nain returns home, she supplies the parents of the girl first-hand information regarding the family into which the girl has gone to spend the rest of her life. But this system is fast fading out.

When the wedding party along with the bride reaches home, the Pani Varna ceremony is performed. Diluted milk, called Kachchi lassi, is put in a small vessel and the bridegroom's mother and sisters turn by turn take it over the head of the bride, three times each. Each time they pretend to make an attempt to drink it, but the bridegroom puts his hand across and stops them. Thereafter some oil is poured over the threshold and the couple enters the house. The bride is escorted to a separate room where she is seated. All relatives and women from the neighbourhood give her gifts, mostly in the form of money. After this, another ceremony called Mundri Chhalla  (playing with a ring) is performed. The Nain throws a small ring in a broad vessel of diluted milk. As soon as she throws the ring, the bride and the bridegroom both try to fish it out, even snatching it from the other's hand. Friend's and relatives stand all round, watching  and Cracking Jokes. This is done seven times.

The next day the ceremony of Got Kunala is performed. The following day, the bride accompanied by her husband, goes to her parents on her first short visit after her wedding. This is called Phere Pana. After this visit when the girl has to leave for her husband's home again, it is customary for her parents to give her clothes and other gifts. This ceremony, known as Muklawa, is performed immediately after the marriage.

Among the less known types of marriages in the Punjab, mention may be made of the Punn( virtuous) marriage which is considered the best of all types. The girl's parents do not accept any money or gifts in any form; the merit of the boy and the family are the only consideration. Then there is the Dohathi (two-handed) marriage. It is a sort of marriage by exchange between two families. A daughter is married off into one family and one of that family's daughters is similarly received back in marriage. Such marriages are very common at the lower social level. The third type is called Taka marriage, in which the boy's father pays something in cash to the girl's father and for all practical purposes, purchases her. This type of marriage is not unknown among the artisan castes.

Divorce

Sikhs and Hindus of Punjab look upon marriage as a sacred and indissoluble bond and do not, therefore, recognise divorce. According to the Sikh scriptures, husband and wife are one one spirit of two bodies. Both Hindus and Sikhs consider marriage as a spiritual  tie which does not break even after death. Therefore, divorce is seldom thought of, not even when men turn their wives out of their houses on the basis of adultery. A woman  generally does not seek separation from her husband even when he is idle, vicious, cruel and characterless. Only at the low social levels does one come across some cases of divorce. The Bagri Jats of Ferozepur, for instance, perform the following ceremony for dissolution of marriage. Some of the brotherhood assemble and the woman is made to stand in their presence, her husband tears his white loin-cloth (dhoti) into two and places half of it on the head, saying that he has given her up; this ceremony is called Dhola Urna.

Remarriage

Widow remarriage does not exist as a custom in Punjab. Among some clans, an issueless widow is allowed to remarry. Widow remarriage is mostly performed with a near relative of the deceased husband. Widow remarriage is comparatively common among the Jats of the Punjab. This marriage is called Kareva or Chadar Andazi. In the presence of near relatives, the prospective husband puts a Chadar (white sheet) over the head of the wife-to-be and puts bangles on her wrists. The corners of the sheet are dyed yellow. Hindus sometimes call the family priest on this occasion and he chants some sacred verses. The Sikhs go to the Gurudwara and perform the ceremony there, before the Holy Book. Among the erstwhile lower and backward tribes of the Punjab such as Sansi, Pakhiwals and Bazigars, widow remarriage is not only permitted and customary but also obligatory.