Wedding is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and memorable day of a couple’s life. This auspicious event not only brings two souls together forever, but also brings them close to their family and friends who join them in the celebrations as a couple begins their new life together. The wishes and blessings of these people are very important for a couple's smooth journey into this new phase of life.
In an Indian wedding, all the rituals performed hold some cultural or religious significance. The chooda and kalireceremony that is usually part of a Punjabi wedding are important too. Held for the Bride, this is usually done on the day of the wedding. The 'chooda' is the red and white bangles with beautiful golden accessories that hang on them, are famously known as 'kalire'.
In a Punjabi wedding,'Chooda' ceremony holds a special position in the brides family. Chooda is traditionally, a set of 21 bangles in red/maroon and white/ivory gifted by the bride’s maternal uncle (Bride's mothers brother).
The ceremony begins with a pujaorhavan. Bangles are first purified with milk and rose petals. Before it is put on the bride's wrist by her maternal uncle, all the close relatives touch thechoodaas a mark of their blessings. After that, the wrist is covered with a white cloth, as the bride cannot see thechoodatill the time of the wedding ceremonies.
Chooda is an important part of a Punjabi bride’s solah shringar. This is one of the most evident marks of a new bride. Not only that, it is also known to bring good luck for the newlyweds. Also, red is a very important colour for a married woman as it is believed to strengthen the bond between a couple. Fertility and prosperity are two words that can be easily associated with the chooda, which is worn for a minimum period of 40-45 days after the wedding day.
The chooda is accompanied with the bridal lehenga, which in many communities is gifted by the maternal uncle as well. Chooda ceremony is a Punjabi ritual but the same can vary in names for different cultures around the country.
The umbrella-shaped hangings tied to the chooda, signifying happiness and eternal love between the couple are kalire. The bride’s sisters and friends tie the kalire to her chooda. Kalire are usually made from gold or silver threads, red being a favorite color in all Punjabi Weddings. Sisters and Friends of Brides usually tie kalire, giving their blessings to the would be wife and reminding her to not forget them post her marriage. Also, the coconut-shape of the kalire is symbolic that she never runs out of food in the new home, while the metal symbolises wealth and prosperity.
Often there are dried beetle nuts, dry fruits and coconut encrusted on the kalire. These are available in various designs and sizes, and one can pick according to their choice.
It is said that if the Bride touches her kalire worn hands on the heads of all the unmarried girls present and a loose kalire falls, then she is the next one to get married. The next day after the wedding, one of the kalire is left at the temple with the priest for blessings and the rest are kept by the bride as a memory of her parent's home and a momento of the wedding day