Sikh weddings take place during the day and it is joyous and festive event, which is family orientated however not so ceremonious or elaborate. Conventional Sikh wedding is known as Anand Karaj which means ‘Blissful Union”.
We recent got a chance to plan couple of Sikh Wedding in Ludhiana & Chandigarh and were glad that we lived upto our client’s expectation. Given below is a brief of Sikh wedding traditions & customs.
Kurmai or Engagement: An engagement ceremony is not mandatory but sometimes performed a week before the wedding in the Gurdwara or at the home of the boy. Kurmai involves Ardas (the common Sikh prayer), Kirtan (hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and Langer (community meal) if performed in the Gurdwara. If performed at home, the bride’s family visits the house of the groom and present kara, kirpan or sweets besides auspicious items like coconut, dry dates, sugar and money. The brides family are gifted with a traditional suit and sweets for the girl.
Maiya: It is a common ceremony in Sikh Wedding. It requires incarceration of the bride and groom for a few days before the marriage, where they are not allowed to change clothes and go out of their homes.
Gana: A propitious thread, which is red in colour, is tied to the right wrist of the groom and the left wrist of the bride. More prosperous items such as cowrie shells, an iron key chain, pearls and a small silken bunch containing sugar are suspended from the gana worn by the bride.
Vatna and Mehndi: Two days prior to the wedding, vatna, which is essentially a fragrant powder consisting of barley flour, turmeric and mustard oil is applied to the bodies of the bride and groom in their homes. This is to be followed by a sacramental bath. On the day before wedding, called mehndi ki raat, henna is applied on the hands and feet of the bride.
Gharoli: At the groom’s house in the morning of the wedding is marked by the gharoli ceremony. During this ceremony, the groom’s sister-in law go together with other female relatives go to a nearby well or Gurudwara to fill an earthen pitcher with water which is later used to bathe the bridegroom.
Khare Charna: Here, the groom is asked to sit on a stool for his bath and four girls hold a cloth above his head.
Chooda Ceremony: For this ritual Bride’s maternal uncle takes her for the Ceremony. She is made to wear a set of red and white ivory bangles dipped in buttermilk (if not ivory then plastic can be the other option. Kaleeren or golden metal danglers are tied to the bride’s wrist by her close female relatives. The bride then dresses up for the main ceremony.
Ghodhi Chadhna and Milni Ceremony: At the groom’s house, his sisters tie a sehera or traditional floral veil to the boy’s forehead. Relatives prettify the groom’s neck with garlands of currency notes. The bridegroom mounts a decorated mare while his sisters-in-law put collyrium in his eyes. On reaching the bride’s house the Milni ceremony is held with the seniors of both families embracing each other. Shabads are sung and the ardaas performed as the procession enters the Gurudwara. Then Breakfast is served to the guests.
A noticeable feature of the Sikh wedding is that is takes place in the Gurdwara. Besides, only four pheras take place in a Sikh wedding.
Lawan Phere: Whenthis ceremony starts with the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Kirtan where the bride and the groom sit together to attend this. The bhaiji of the Gurudwara narrates the first lavan or hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, which are then sung and the bride and groom encircle the Guru Granth Sahib. The bridegroom walks in front of the bride with a sword in his hand. When one round is over, both take their place, bow and wait for the next lavan to start. During the fourth and the last lavan, the wedding is complete and the newly wedded couple is then showered with flowers. The hidaayats or their duties and responsibilities towards each other as man and wife and also towards their elders are recited to them. Relatives and friends garland the newly wedded couple and the marriage ceremony concludes with a grand feast.
Doli: The bride puts on new clothes, which are given by the groom’s family. Then as she goes from her parent’s house she throws back grains of rice which symbolizes her wishes of opulence for the family she leaves behind.