Punjabi weddings characterize the exuberant enthusiastic approach to life that most Punjabis have. The ceremonies begin shagun, an engagement ceremony where rings are exchanged and gifts are given by the bride's parents to members of the groom's family.
There are many similarities in the initial stages of a Sikh wedding and a Hindu wedding. It is only during the actual wedding ceremony that their respective traditions and beliefs are highlighted.
On the day of the wedding an important ritual connected with the bride is the bangles ceremony, where the maternal uncle and aunt of the bride put white and red bangles on the bride's wrists. Light ornaments of beaten silver and gold, called kalira, are tied to the bangles.
The bridegroom's entourage, the barat, has its own customs to observe - more singing and dancing, decking up the bridegroom, tying the sehra (a sort of ornamental veil) over his face, leading him in procession, often on ghodi (horseback), to the marriage venue to the accompaniment of a brass band.
The actual ceremony for the Hindus is conducted in front of the ceremonial fire with both parents seated on either side of the bride and groom. They are deemed to be married only after they have gone around the sacred fire seven times - called the lawan phere.
The Sikh couple will sit before the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, while prayers are said and the granthi instructs them on the duties of marriage. Finally they walk around the Guru Granth Sahib. Most Sikh weddings are conducted in the morning within the precincts of a gurdwara.
The concluding ceremony is the doli where an emotional farewell is given to the bride as she is taken to her new home in an elaborately decorated car.