MARRIAGES and RITUALS
Sikhism originated over 500 years ago in the Indian state of Punjab and today stands as the world's fifth largest religion. It combines the teachings of Bhakti, Hinduism and Islam. Collectively, Sikhs are known as Khalsa, The Pure Ones, and their place of worship or temple is called Gurdwara. The Sikhs worship ten Gurus or prophets. The Guru Granth Sahib is their book of religious prayer and singing is an important part of all Sikh religious worship and tradition.
Sikh marriage ceremonies are ornate and colorful family occasions which combine both time honored rituals and festivity. Traditionally, weddings are referred to as Anand Karag, meaning a ceremony of joy or happiness. Although many Sikh marriages are arranged. the bride must be at least 18 years old and the consensus of both the bride and the groom is given serious consideration. Before the actual wedding day arrives there are many pre-wedding rituals to prepare the bride and groom for the special day. Sikh wedding attire is extremely vibrant. Red, symbolizing life and journey, is a predominant color associated with all Indian marriages
Unlike Hindu marriages,
Sikh weddings always take place in the morning. As guests and family arrive,
morning hymns or Asidi Var are sung.
The bridal couple then sits before the Granth Sahib. The ceremony commences with readings
and prayers, continuing with a discussion of the meaning and responsibilities
of marriage. After the couple bows to acknowledge they understand their obligations,
the bride's father places one end of a pink, red or orange scarf, also known
as a chunni, in the groom's hand, passes
it over the shoulder and places the other end in the bride's hand. The bhaiji,
or preacher begins to recite the first lavan
verse as the bride and groom circle clockwise around the Guru
Granth Sahib. While both continue to hold the chunni, the groom walks ahead of the bride with
a ceremonial sword, or kirpan in his hand. The sword symbolizes freedom,
liberty and defense of the oppressed. This process is then repeated three more
times. The hour long ceremony concludes with additional prayers, hymns and the
showering of flowers. In addition, the bhaiji reads to the couple their responsibilities
to each other as well as to their families. The ceremony is followed by the
serving of karah parshed, a sweet made
of flour, sugar and ghee. A more formal meal is served in the Langar,
the community kitchen at the Gurdwara.
Several hours after the
wedding celebration the bride prepares to leave for her new home with her
in-laws. She changes into clothing given to her by the groom's family and then
performs the ritual doli, or send off of
the bride. The Phera ceremony occurs the
day after the wedding. The couple returns to the bride's home for additional
presents and feasts.