Wedding celebration is a very important sector of Punjabi culture, as it signals the departure from one’s family. Since marriage is a greatly monumental occasion, it is crucial for it to be celebrated in a grandiose manner.
The religious ceremony that takes place at the Gurdwara, a Sikh Temple, is referred to as ‘Aand Karaj’ – a sacramental union, where the bride and groom marry in front of the Guru Garanth Sahib (the central religious scripture of Sikhism) while their friends and family gather around the couple, usually with men and one side and women on the opposite side. At the Gurdwawra, the bridegroom party is lovingly greeted by the bride’s family with Milni and Tea. The Sikh Priest reads the Ardas, which is a special prayer that occurs before the formal introductions of both sets of parents, siblings, uncles and aunts etc.
After the milni, the groom and his party are served breakfast which traditionally consists of samosa, pakora and mithai which is served with hot tea amongst other beverages. They then move to the Darbar, the main hall where the wedding ceremony takes place, where the groom is seated with the rest of the men where his sisters will remove the groom’s sehra or kalgi before sitting in front of the Guru Garanth Sahib.
The couple, along with their parents will stand for another Ardas prior to the actual wedding ceremony. The father takes the end of the groom’s scarf and places it in the bride’s hands, after this the bride’s brothers stand around the holy scripture and the couple starts their lavan. ‘Lavan’ is translated to the next stage or to break away, as the bride is departing from her parents and integrating into her husband’s life.
The Groom leads the Bride and they will walk around the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Scripture) four times at set intervals, bowing at the beginning and end of each stanza. The brothers will take turns to lead the bride around, which derives from an archaic tradition where the bride has to cover her face to protect her from the evil eye (nazar), thus the bride can’t see through the veil and her brothers must guide her.
During the Anand Karaj, each verse during the ceremony is a vow written by the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das Ji. The Ragis will sing each verse of the marriage song as bride and groom joined by the palla, walk around the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
The actual Sikh wedding is under an hour, including all the traditions prior to this, the wedding in its entirety is 3-4 hours long. After the wedding ceremony, another Ardas is read and everyone will stand in front of the Guru Granth Sahib before being given parsad – a sweet offering made of sugar and flour.
This content was originally published here.