Sikh Weddings

Sikh Weddings

A Sikh wedding is described as ‘Anand Karaj’ – a union of two souls. The ceremony takes place in front of the holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

On the whole Sikh weddings are vibrant and a culturally-rich event. Traditionally, Sikh weddings are arranged, however consent to do so is sought from the individuals involved before commencing the process.

Before the wedding

An engagement, which is called the kurmai, is not a requirement. However, if this is to take place, it would normally be about a week before the actual wedding day, either at the temple or the groom’s home.

The customs involved in preparing for the wedding differ depending on the families. For the groom, his friends and family, a party is held a day before the wedding including food, entertainment and lots of dancing. For the bride, her family and friends, it is a similar event. The brides’ hands and feet are decorated with intricate henna designs. Other females are invited to have their hands and feet decorated with henna also. There is a lot of singing and dancing to celebrate the occasion.

A ritual of applying paste of turmeric, sandal, cream and rosewater by both the bride as well as the groom is also conducted a day before the wedding. The bride and groom is scrubbed clean under the shade of a cloth fully embroidered on the hand made cotton fabric, dyed at home. The brides’ uncles present her with the chura, which are bangles of red and white. Kaliras, which are tinsel wedding ornaments tied to bangles by sisters and friends of the bride, are also presented.


The wedding day ceremony

The Sikh ceremony can be performed in any Gurdwara or venue where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is in place. The ceremony is usually performed in the morning.

If the ceremony is performed in the Gurdwara, it commences with Milni, this is where the two families greet each other, exchanging well wishes and garlands. Kirtan, which is a simple ceremony and hymns from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is performed as people enter the Gurdwara. The men and women sit on separate sides from each other. They stand for the Ardas, which is the common Sikh prayer.

The groom is seated first. Shortly after, the bride is led to her seat by her mother and best friend, and is seated on the groom's left. The couple sit facing the one who officiates the marriage, known as the pathi.

The singing of the Asa di Var, the Gurus' morning hymn, opens the ceremony. Other hymns may also be sung at this time. The couple and their parents are asked to stand while the Pathi prays before being seated.

The Pathi continues to go on to make a speech explaining the significance of Sikh marriage. The Sikh Gurus have a very high regard for the state of marriage.

The Pathi then asks the bride and groom to signify their approval to their marriage and if they agree to accept their duties. They bow before Sri Guru Granth Sahib to acknowledge their consent. The bride's father places a garland of flowers on the holy book, and on the bride and groom. He also places one end of the scarf in the groom's hand, over the groom's shoulder and into the bride's hand, to signify that she is now leaving his care to join her husbands.

The officiate goes on to read the Lavan hymn of Guru Ram Das, which is composed of four verses. The groom, followed by the bride, walk around Sri Guru Granth Sahib in a clockwise direction at the completion of each of the four verses, which symbolise the four stages of love. After each time around, the bride and groom kneel and bow towards Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Once they have walked around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib four times, they are a married couple.

The religious ceremony is formally concluded by the entire congregation standing for the final Ardas of the marriage. After this the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is opened to any page at random and the hymn is read out as the days order from the Guru for the occasion. Karah Prashad, which is a ceremonial sacramental pudding, is then distributed to everyone.

Both sets of parents are first to congratulate the married couple. Friends and family follow to present the couple with cash offerings in their lap. Everyone then leaves for the dining hall to sit on the floor in langer, the community kitchen, and enjoy a traditional langer meal.

Please note that a civil marriage may be required after the Sikh ceremony, for legal reasons if it does not take place in a temple.
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