This is the first in a series of three posts: Bollywood Borrowed presents the ultimate guide to Sikh, Hindu and Muslim weddings! If you’re not sure which one you are attending — give us a call and we might be able to help you out.
Sikh weddings take place at a Gurdwara (temple) near the bride’s home town. Inside the Gurdwara, heads are covered as a mark of respect. Women drape a scarf over their heads (we recommend pins to secure it) and men who don’t wear a turban, cover their heads with a knotted handkerchief. If you don’t have one that’s big enough, the Gurdwara will provide one, they’re usually orange. Click here to learn how to tie one.
This translates to meeting. It’s where the bride’s family welcomes the groom’s family (baraat) to the Gurdwara. The bride and some family wait in the entrance (usually downstairs). The fathers begin by exchanging flower garlands and gifts and the rest of the family follows suit. They then share breakfast together in the food hall (Langar).
This translates to ‘ceremony of bliss’ and happens in the prayer room, usually upstairs. Guests enter first, and are seated cross legged on the floor facing the elaborately decorated canopy (Chanani or Palki) at the front of the prayer room. Men and women sit on different sides of the prayer room. Men are usually on the left and women sit on the right. Young children can sit on either side with a parent.
Hymns are sung by Raagis (singers at the Gurdwara). When the congregation is seated the groom enters, followed by close members of his family. He stands at the front and presents a new rumaal (cloth) over the Guru Granth Sahib (holy scriptures) and bows before it before being seated. The groom usually grows a beard before the wedding and wears a turban. He would have the 5 Ks on his person.
The 5 Ks signify a person’s dedication and commitment to Khalsa (the Sikh faith). Khalsa was initiated by Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the ten Gurus of Sikhism who dedicated the holy scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, to succeed him. He is revered by Sikhs the world over.
The 5 Ks are as follows:
Kesh: uncut hair
Kara: a steel bangle
Kanga: wooden comb
Kaccha: cotton underwear
Kirpan: steel sword
A Sikh groom often carries a sword. This is a tradition which stemmed from the need to protect himself and his wife hundreds of years ago, and has been carried through generations. Today, the groom would never remove the sword from its scabbard.
The bride then enters with her family behind her and presents a second rumaal before the scriptures, bowing before it. The couple sits side by side in front of the elaborate Palki.
The first prayer involves both sets of parents, the bride and the groom. The couple bows before the scriptures as they agree to their responsibilities as equal partners. The bride’s father places the end of a ceremonial stole worn by the groom, in the bride’s hands, symbolising the bride now being in the groom’s care.
The Granthi (priest) reads four verses of the Guru Granth Sahib. After each verse, the couple walks a phera (round) around the Palki (groom first). The bride’s brothers will stand around the Palki and escort her around it to demonstrate their support.
Each Lavan signifies a different element of life:
First: God sets out the instructions for performing the daily duties of married life
Second: The couple puts aside ego and materialism in the search for the true Guru
Third: The couple’s hearts are filled with divine love for God
Fourth: The couple’s minds become peaceful, having found God
The congregation rises and the final prayer is recited. Karah Prasad (blessed semolina pudding) is distributed among the guests (cup both hands together to receive it and eat it directly from your hands). The couple is now married in the eyes of God. Guests shake hands and congratulate each other.
Food is usually served in the Langar (food hall). Guests will file out of the prayer room and eat together to celebrate the nuptials.