Traditional Sikh Marriage is known as Anand Karaj which means 'Blissful Union". Sikh weddings take place during the day. It is joyous and festive event which is very family orientated and informal in its atmosphere.
A number of interesting and colorful rituals mark the traditional Sikh Wedding ceremony.
- Kurmai or Engagement:An engagement ceremony or kurmai is not mandatory in a Sikh wedding but is sometimes performed one week before the wedding. It is usually conducted in the Gurdwara or at the home of the boy. Kurmai involves Ardas (the common Sikh prayer), Kirtan (hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and langer (community meal) if performed in the Gurdwara. If performed at home, the bride's family visits the house of the groom and present kara, kirpan or traditional sweets besides auspicious items like coconut, chhuhare (dry dates), sugar and money. They brides family in turn are presented with a traditional suit and sweets for the girl.
- Maiya : A custom common to Sikh wedding ceremony is maiya. It requires confinement of the bride and groom for a few days before the marriage, where they are not allowed to leave their homes or change their clothes.
- Gana : An auspicious red thread is tied to the right wrist of the groom and the left wrist of the bride. Auspicious items such as cowrie shells, an iron key chain, pearls and a small silken bundle containing sugar are suspended from the gana worn by the bride.
- Vatna and Mehndi: A couple of days prior to the wedding, vatna, which is essentially a scented powder consisting of barley flour, turmeric and mustard oil is applied to the bodies of the bride and groom in their respective homes. This is to be followed by a ritual bath. Then on the eve of the wedding, called mehndi ki raat, henna is applied on the hands and feet of the bride.
- Gharoli : The morning of the wedding is marked by the gharoli ceremony at the groom's house. In this, the groom's sister-in law accompanied by other female relatives go to a nearby well or Gurudwara to fill a decorated earthen pitcher or gharoli with water which is later used to bath the bridegroom.
- Khare Charna : In this ceremony, the groom is made to sit on a stool for his bath and four girls hold a cloth over his head.
- Chooda Ceremony : Bride's maternal uncle or mama takes her for the choora ceremony. She is made to wear a set of red and white ivory (since ivory is banned, bone or plastic are alternative) bangles that have been dipped in kachchi lassi or buttermilk. Kaleeren or golden metal danglers are tied to the bride's wrist by her close female relatives. The bride now dresses up for the main ceremony.
- Ghodhi Chadhna and Milni Ceremony : At the groom's house, a sehera or ceremonial floral veil is tied to the boy's forehead by his sisters. Close relatives adorn the groom's neck with garlands of currency notes. The bridegroom mounts a decorated mare while his sisters-in -law put collyrium in his eyes.
On reaching the bride's house the milni ceremony is held with the seniors of both families embracing each other. Shabads are sung and the ardaas recited as the procession enters the Gurudwara. Breakfast is served to the guests.
A noticeable feature of the Sikh wedding is that is takes place in the Gurdwara. Besides, only four pheras take place in a Sikh wedding.
- Lawan Phere : Here in, the bride and the groom sit together and attend the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Kirtan. The bhaiji of the Gurudwara recites the first lavan or hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, which are then sung and the bride and groom circle the Guru Granth Sahib. The bridegroom walks ahead of the bride with a sword in his hand. When one round is over, both take their seats, bow and wait for the second lavan to start. During the fourth and final lavan, flowers are showered on the newly wedded couple. The hidaayat or niyams that is their duties and responsibilities towards each other as man and wife and also towards their elders is recited to them. Relatives and friends garland the newly wedded couple and the marriage ceremony concludes with a grand feast.
Given here is a brief description of post wedding rituals of a Sikh Wedding.
- Doli : The bride changes into new clothes that are presented to her by the groom's family. As she parts from her parent's house she throws back grains of rice. This gesture symbolizes her wishes of prosperity for the family she leaves behind.
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