The big fat Punjabi Wedding: Traditions & Trends

Punjabi weddings are positively notorious for their over-the-top extravagance, rich and varied cuisine, dhol and dance. All this topped up with elaborate jewelry and trousseaus befitting a queen – heavily embroidered lehengas, exquisitely designed jewelry, a closetful of footwear, trendy handbags, assorted goodies from the cosmetic shelf and doting relatives and friends- make it a quintessential fairy-tale day for the bride. A Punjabi wedding, in a manner, is no less than a mini carnival. With so much color, music and merry-making in the air; with drinking and dancing preceding and succeeding every little occasion; and jhappies, pappis and bhangra all over the place, can fashion and style be left far behind? With the wedding season at its pinnacle, let’s take a sneak peek at what the modern Punjabi bride is doing to spike up her glam quotient.


Chooda: Choodas are a staple in every Punjabi bride’s wedding attire. Made of plastic or other unbreakable material, Choodas a set of red and white bangles which is worn by the brides until and few days (or even months) after the wedding. Choodas come in red, fuchsia, maroon, orange or pink and may be studded with diamonds or precious stones.  It is somewhat hip today to flaunt the vibrant Chooda as a sign of new-found matrimony. The Chooda is given to the bride by her maternal uncle as is further adorned with Kalira ( a bunch of flattened golden trinkets suspended from the chooda) by the bride’s sisters and girl-friends. The bride then jiggles the trinkets over her bridesmaids and the girl who gets a broken piece of the trinkets is said to be next in line to tie the nuptial knot.


Attire: Though saris are fairly popular owing to the many innovative drapes inspired from the runways, lehengas still rule the roost. Conventional colors like red, maroon and magenta are giving way to contemporary hues like blues, greens and metallics. Somber looks don’t appear to go down well with the “chromophilic” Punjabis and bold shades like flaming oranges, fuchsias, turquoise, peacock blues, bottle greens, sunny yellows and coppers are the choice of the season. Dual colored and multi-colored lehengas are also a big rage as they go well with the vibrant décor of the wedding venue and look very stylish too.

Color coordinated and theme-centric outfits for the couple are extremely hot this season. Brides are no longer afraid to experiment with cuts and silhouettes to lend an interesting twist to their look. Backless cholis, corsets and creative necklines have replaced conservative and demure blouses. Zardosi and gota work along with heavy embroideries embellished with kundan , crystal and semi-precious stones are making big waves in the bridal fashion circuit. Heavily embellished salwar-suits are also in but are restricted to Gurudwara weddings and peripheral rituals. The overall bridal look for the season is very traditional, rich and classic.


Jewelry: Bling is in and gaudy is out. Brides have realized that ancestral pieces in jarringly yellow gold belong in the locker and are increasingly opting for costume jewellery that complements their outfit for the day. Diamonds can never go out of style and traditional work like meenakari and jadau always remains versatile and evergreen. Also, many brides are choosing contemporary and fashionable jewelry over traditional “investment-type” stuff. The key however, is to avoid going overboard as too much bling can go seriously wrong at times. Bangles are absolute essentials in a Punjabi bride’s jewelry box and so are nose rings or Nathnis.


Make-Up: The fresh, minimal look is passé once again and the glamorous, dramatic look is the way to go. A dew-esque look with striking eye make-up, loads of mascara, glitter and a deep, glossy mouth is what Punjabi brides are opting for these days.


Henna or Mehendi: Every bride’s pride, this natural orange pigment has been used by women to beautify their palms since time immemorial. Henna patterns for a bride are very intricately done and special care is taken to ensure that the mahogany color darkens as much as possible. The designs can range from a modest Arabian design on the palm to a highly detailed traditional design that can extend beyond the elbows. And up to the knees. As custom would have it, the grooms name is encrypted somewhere in the maze and he is supposed to spend hours spotting it out.


Hair: Fancy up-dos are as popular as ever but the veils are gradually gaining transparency to do justice to the former. Translucent fabrics like chiffon and tissue are very hot right now as they create a traditional look without compromising on the style factor. Flashy hair accessories and elaborate hairstyles have taken over the “minimalistic look” that was hitherto in vogue.

With no dearth of disposable income among the large-hearted Punjabi community, new trends like “designer weddings”, “concept weddings” and “theme weddings” are becoming commonplace and wedding planners are laughing their way to the bank. A Punjabi wedding is not just a lawful union of a man and a woman- it is an excuse to celebrate the beauty and opulence of life.

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