The Sikh wedding signifies a holy union between two souls
where they physically appear as two separate individuals but in fact are united as one. The Sikh marriage is also termed as Anand Karaj which means a blissful union. The Sikh marriages usually are arranged with the ultimate choice being left up to the girl and the boy. In some cases the boy and girl may consent upon each other and then seek the consent of their parents’. According to religion, followers believe one should marry whoever he or she pleases as long as the significant other is a believer in Sikhism, is humble by nature and earns by honest means. However, culturally, parents will try to find suitable matches but this has nothing to do with religion. It is simple influenced by culture and there are emerging exceptions as times are progressing. Sikh Gurus state marriage as: “They are not husband and wife who only have physical contact; rather they are wife and husband who have one spirit in two bodies.”
The official sikh law that is the Rehat Maryada strictly says that any preferences to your spouse’s, cast, lineage is not allowed. As long as the couple professes its Sikh faith, and no other faith they can be joined in wedlock. Dowry is forbidden since marriage isn’t seen as a business transaction. Sikhs are also forbidden from consulting horoscopes or any sort of superstition that could relate to selecting a date and time for the wedding. The wedding ceremony itself can be performed in any Gurdwara or it can be performed at home where Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been respectfully placed. The ceremony itself cannot be performed in a banquet hall. There are no restrictions on what time the ceremony can be held, but they are usually performed during the day time, preferably in the morning with the religious ceremony taking about a few hours.
The engagement also called the kurmai, it is not required but it is performed a week before the wedding. It either takes place in the Gurdwara or at the groom’s house. The religious ceremony consists of the Ardas(common Sikh prayer), Kirtan (hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and the langer (meal) which is performed in the Gurdwara. If the ceremony is being performed at home, then it usually involves the bride’s family visiting the groom’s house where the groom is presented with a kara, kirpan or Indian sweets and the bride’s family in return are presented with clothes and sweets for the bride.
This is when the groom’s family departs for the bride’s house. Close family and friends are invited to the groom’s house to depart together for the Gurdwara or the bride’s house. Everyone receives tea and snacks before departing. The bride’s family is the host and the groom’s family is entertained with fun and music. They usually spend the night at the bride’s house.
The next day, the ceremony takes place at the Gurdwara or the bride’s home. If going to the Gurdwara, by tradition the groom will enter on horseback. This consists of the Ragis performing the Kirtan which is the singing of the hymns of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The bride then makes her appearance, first of the day. There is a segregation with men and women sitting on opposites sides of the hall at an equal distance. Non Sikh attendees are free to sit together.
The ceremony can be conducted by any Sikh man or woman. It begins with the officiate after having ascertained that both the bride and groom are of the Sikh belief to which the couple then stands; this being an indication that the couple has consented to the marriage. Four rounds of stanzas follow where the couple rises and sits between each reading of the stanza. There are four in total. Following the religious ceremony, entertainment such as song and dance, take up the remainder of the day. The next day, the groom departs with his newly wedded wife.