Sikh Wedding Rituals
The Sikh wedding is generally held in Gurudwara, amidst the preacher of the religious place, family, friends and relatives. When it comes to a Sikh Indian wedding, the festive ambiance is set a week before the ceremony. The groom's sister and the bride's father play a prominent role during the wedding ceremony, apart from the family members. The Sikh marriage is a simple, yet elegant occasion wherein various rituals are followed before, during and after it. Given below is detailed information on the pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding rituals followed by Sikhs.
Sikh Wedding Customs
Shagun or engagement is the ceremony that marks the beginning of the Sikh wedding celebrations. The ceremony is also called Tilak, which is performed by a bhaiji (preacher) of the Gurudwara. He reads hymns and then applies a tilak on the groom's forehead, to mark the engagement ceremony. On the occasion, the families of the prospective bride and the groom exchange gifts in order to confirm the engagement of the couple. The bride's father takes care of the ceremonial activities of the engagement. As a part of the shagun, a thali containing coconut, dry dates, sugar and money are sent to the groom's family by the bride's family.
Choora or the bangle ceremony is another important Sikh pre-wedding ritual. The occasion is organized at the bride's home, wherein the maternal uncle and aunt of the bride adorn her wrist with white and red bangles. Ornaments made of silver and gold, known as kalira, are tied to the bangles. The third pre-wedding custom followed by Sikhs is 'maiya', according to which, the bride and the groom are not allowed to leave their house for few days prior to the wedding. Gana is a pre-wedding ritual wherein an auspicious red thread is tied to the right wrist of the groom and the left wrist of the bride, at their respective homes. It is regarded as a sacred thread that protects the bride and the groom from ill omen.
Vatna is a ritual celebrated a few days before the wedding ceremony. According to the tradition followed by the Sikhs, vatna, a scented powder consisting of barley flour, turmeric and mustard oil, is smeared to the bride and the groom. This is followed by an auspicious bath.Mehndi is another pre-wedding ritual organized on the eve of the marriage.During the ceremony, henna (mehndi) is applied on the hands and the feet of the bride.
Gharoli is observed in the morning of the wedding day, at the groom's home. During the occasion, the groom's sister-in-law, accompanied by other female relatives, go to a nearby well or Gurudwara to fill an earther pitcher (gharoli) with water, which is later used to bathe and the groom. This is followed by the wedding ceremony, which is called 'milni'. The groom's sisters tie a sehera (floral veil) to his forehead. They adorn his neck with a garland of currency notes. The groom's procession then heads towards the bride's house, where the milni ceremony is held.
During the milni ceremony, the bride and the groom's families embrace and wish each other. Shabads are sung and the ardaas recited as the procession enters the Gurudwara breakfast is served to the guests.After the culmination of the milni ceremony, the bride and the groom sit together to attend the Guru Granth Sahib Kirtan. The groom's sister drapes a chunni around his neck. She ties one end of the chunni to the pallu of the lehanga worn by the bride. The chunni could be pink, red or orange in color.Thereafter, the bhaiji of the Gurudwara recites hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, which are then sung and the bride and groom, who encircle the Guru Granth Sahib. While walking around the Guru Granth Sahib, the groom leads the bride, with a sword in his hand. The marriage ceremony culminates here. This is followed by a grand feast.
The post-wedding rituals of a traditional Sikh wedding consist of vidaai or doli ceremony, which marks the end of the celebration. It is a very emotional affair for the bride's family. As the bride departs from her parent's house, she throws back handful of rice over her shoulder, thereby wishing prosperity for her parents and family, which she leaves behind to start a new life with new dreams and aspirations.