Sikh Wedding Traditions
Sikh weddings are some of the most joyful and beautiful celebrations. The bride, groom and their families come together to commit to each other with a traditional Anand Karaj ceremony, which includes prayers in Gurumukhi and chanting of Gurbani. Furthermore, vibrant colors, intricate designs and ornate clothing characterize Sikh weddings as the families express their love for each other through this intense celebration. During the wedding ceremony, sweet music is played on various musical instruments such as tablas, dhols and strings. As part of the wedding ceremonies, Kirigarams (head decorations) are worn by both bride and groom as a symbol of their everlasting bond and union as husband and wife. This creates an atmosphere full of happiness that makes it a momentous occasion for many generations to come!
Read all about Sikh Wedding Traditions in the article below.
Rituals Before the Wedding
Chooda Ceremony: The bride's maternal Mama (uncle) and Mami (aunt) select a set of 21 red, pink, and orange bangles before the Chooda ceremony – where they present the gift. This occurs during the morning of the wedding. Rose petals and milk are used to purify the bangles. They are then placed on the bride's wrist. The bride is only meant to see the bangles once she’s 100% ready for the wedding ceremony. So, until then, her wrist is covered in white cloth. Lastly, the bride showers bridesmaids with her Kalire, akin to a Christian bouquet toss. Similar to Western traditions, the recipient will be the next woman married.
Gana Ceremony: As to protect the marrying couple from bad omens, during the Gana Ceremony, a red thread is used to tie the groom and bride together. The thread goes on the groom’s left wrist and bride’s right wrist.
Vatna Ceremony: A turmeric and mustard oil paste is applied to the couple. The Vatna Ceremony is meant to cleanse the bride and groom just before the wedding day.
Gharoli Ceremony: The Gharoli Ceremony necessitates an earthen pot filled with water from gurdwara by the bride's sister and other relatives. After the Vatna, the groom uses this to bathe.
Mehndi: One day before the wedding, there’s a Mehndi celebration where the bride’s hands and feet are decorated in eye-catching henna. The darker the colors used, the more it symbolizes the strength of the couple’s love. Often, this occasion runs in unison with the Chooda ceremony.
RITUALS DURING THE WEDDING
Milni Ceremony: The Hindi word ‘Milan’ is derived from a Sanskrit expression meaning “a coming together”, giving the Milni Ceremony its definition as a unification of the two families. This tradition occurs in both Hindu and Sikh weddings before the start of the marriage rituals. After the Groom makes his way through the Baraat procession, the Bride’s closest relatives welcome him by sprinkling rose water and offering Shagun, a token of good luck.
Haar Ceremony: Haar is a currency garland that gets tied around the groom’s neck by his sister on the day of his wedding. Furthermore, she also places a flower veil around her brother’s forehead during the ceremony.
Laavaan Phere: The Ardaas (prayer) is recited in the Laavaan Phere, where the bride and groom's families are present. As the couple moves in a clockwise direction around the Guru Granth Sahib, four payers are chanted. These are referred to as the Laavaan Phere. There are final payers at the end of the ceremony, followed by the handing out of guruprasa (sweet offerings).
RITUALS AFTER THE WEDDING
Doli: Upon completing the wedding ceremony, the bride dresses in an outfit she’s been given by her in-laws. She then says goodbye to her family.
Welcome: The newlyweds are welcomed by the groom's mother, who pours oil at their home's entrance before the married couple enters. Both families follow suit as they celebrate the bride's arrival.
Reception: Similar to Western weddings, Sikh wedding ceremonies are followed by a grand wedding reception that takes place the same day or a day after the wedding ceremony. Formal introductions of the happy couple are made to their extended relatives through a reception that the groom's parents planned
Hopefully, if you're about to attend your first Sikh wedding, this blog has painted a compelling picture and helped you further enjoy the splendid occasion.