The next stage of a Guide to Punjabi Weddings is the Kurmai ceremony, which can take place months before the wedding or just before the Anand Karaj (marriage ceremony). It is the equivalent to the chunni ceremony in that the girl’s family comes to the boy’s house or gurdwara where the boy’s family have held a paath (prayer). They will invite their family and friends. Traditionally, only men from the girl’s family would come but now anyone comes, except the girl – who is not meant to go to her in-laws before marriage, at least that is the traditional custom!
The girl’s family bring gifts of ladoo, mithai, fruit and dry fruit. The boy’s sisters will put a palla (long scarf) around the boy’s shoulders so he holds it open in his lap. The girl’s father will then fill the palla with handfuls of dry fruit and present the boy with a gold Kara (Sikh bangle) or watch. Some families may even gift a gold chain or ring. This depends entirely on the family’s preference. The ceremony usually ends with the boy and girl’s respective fathers putting a garland over each other, which is called a milni (meeting). The parents will then feed ladoo to the boy, followed by the rest of the family and friends who will also gift him money, otherwise known as sagan.
The meaning behind the girl’s family coming and gifting the boy is similar to the significance behind the chunni churaona – they are sealing their approval and publicly declaring the boy as their son-in-law to-be. In traditional Indian custom, the girl’s family never come to the boy’s house empty-handed, thus they bring fruit or Indian sweets. It is considered auspicious to bring something sweet.
The milni between both fathers at the end symbolises their union of families. However, this is not done if the kurmai is held on the wedding day.
Generally, the girl’s family will go to the kurmai with the following:
- Gold kara (or whatever other gift they opt to give the boy)
- Large amount of ladoo, which could be displayed in a box, tray or basket
- Small box of ladoo – to feed the boy during the kurmai
- Baskets of fruit in an odd number (3 or 5)
- Dry fruit made of an odd number of ingredients (5, 7 or 9) including almonds, raisins, mishri (crystallised sugar lumps), cardamom, cashew nuts, coconut flakes or dates.
- Garland for the milni
The boy’s family should be equipped with the following:
- Palla for the boy
- Small box of ladoo or mithai to feed the boy during the sagan
- Large box of ladoo or mithai to gift to the girl’s family before they leave
- Ramallah, if the kurmai is held at the gurdwara
- Garland for the milni
So this was the kurmai ceremony. Now the boy and girl have been engaged and publicly recognised as fiancés. Watch this space to find out the next stage of a Guide to Punjabi Weddings, which is full of delicious food…the karahi!