Sikh Wedding: A Deeply Meaningful Ceremony

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A traditional Sikh Wedding ceremony (Anand Karaj) is quite a simple ceremony that is customarily held in the Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship). There is, however, a great deal of beauty and significance to it despite its simplicity; it is a holy union between two individuals who are believed to form an equal ‘partnership’ with this marriage. The Sikh culture looks upon the Anand Karaj ceremony as a sanctified unification of two souls.


Bridal Attire

Brides normally wear salwar kameez, saris or lehengas while the grooms dress up in Shervanis or a traditional shirt (kurtas) and trousers. Additionally, grooms also wear pink or red turbans and carry a colorful scarf called pulla. Brides are also required to cover their head and may use a heavily embroidered duppatta or shawl for this purpose. Like in all other Indian weddings you are very likely to see guests in brightly colored wedding attire typically in reds, oranges and pinks during this occasion. Guests are also required to cover their head when entering the Gurdwara. Long scarves, handkerchiefs or Pashmina shawls may be used for this purpose. Additionally, this being a place of worship, one must remove one’s footwear outside the prayer hall.

The Baraat and the wedding ceremony

Prior to the wedding rituals, the baraat (or the groom’s procession) leaves his residence amidst great pomp and opulence for the venue. Upon arrival at the Gurdwara, the party goes on into the main prayer hall. Holy prayers called Gurbani are sung at this time and the key people of the event (namely the bride, groom and their immediate families) are all made to recite prayers. The priest then recites the “Laavs” written down in the Holy Scriptures as the bride and groom walk around the Guru Granth Sahib. The entire gathering is then asked to bless the newlyweds and gifts may be exchanged during the Sagaan ceremony. A sweet pudding called the Kara prashad is also distributed to attendees. The chief wedding rituals can last anywhere from two to three hours and are usually followed by a sumptuous vegetarian lunch ( Langar) at the Gurudwara. The ceremony is also followed by a reception ceremony during the later part of the day. This is an informal occasion where there are no rules or restrictions on the bridal attire.

The Sikh wedding ceremony is beautifully summarized by Guru Amar Das in the Granth Sahib :

One Soul in Two Bodies

“They are not said to be husband and wife, who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies.”

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