Sikh weddings: grand simplicity
Sikhism is the fifth-largest organized religion in the world, with around 30 million adherents, most of them found in the Indian region of Punjab, where more than three quarters of the world’s Sikhs live.
The Sikh marriage ceremony is called Anand Karaj (blissful union) and it is, as in most places around the world, a family-oriented celebration. The marriage ceremony itself is a short affair of less than an hour, taking place in the Sikh temple (the Gurdwara) in the company of the holy scripture Guru Granth Sahib. At the end of the ceremony, the Sagaan is celebrated. This is when most guests will give a small amount money to the newlyweds (unless you are a very close relative, no wedding gift is necessary). After the ceremony is complete, the husband and wife are considered to be a single soul in two bodies.
While the ceremony is rather simple, the wedding reception is a big, boisterous event with a buffet, lots of music and energetic dancing. There are also lots and lots of people — Sikh receptions are very large. They can have up to a thousand (!) guests and last for up to three days. (Almost as long as an Indian wedding!)
What inspiration can you get from a Sikh wedding? Here are my top three tips:
Leave your superstition at home. When it comes to picking the wedding date, Sikhs do not believe in superstition. Any day suitable to the parties is fixed without any regard to superstitious beliefs about good or bad days –a bit of pragmatism that might do wonders for stressed brides and grooms.
Encourage guests to wear vibrant colours. According to Sikh culture, bright colours are auspicious. If you want to skip the white dress, there is one colour traditionally reserved for the bride: bright red!
Let your families meet! Before the religious Sikh ceremony, the milni is the official meeting of key relatives from each family, under rather informal conditions. Why not arrange a relaxed wedding day breakfast with both sides to relieve the reception of some awkward first conversations?
Still not sure? Just keep in mind, the wedding venue of your dreams might be available on Friday the 13th…