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        SIKH MARRIAGES
SIKH MARRIAGES
SIKH MARRIAGES
A Sikh is a follower of sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the punjab region of south asia. The term Sikh has its origin in sanskrit term meaning disciple, student or meaning instruction A Sikh is a disciple of the guru
The Sikh marriage is not merely a physical and legal contract but is a holy union between two souls where physically they appear as two individual bodies but in fact are united as one. The Sikh marriage ceremony is also known as Anand Karaj meaning blissful union. Anand Karaj consists of the couple revolving around Siri Guru Granth Sahib four times as the Lavan (Marriage hymns) are being recited. Revolving is the sign of making commitment with the Guru as a witness. In addition, revolving signifies that Guru is the center of the couples life and springs life and the understanding of the journey of the soul crossing this world to be One with God. In the marriage ceremony, Siri Guru Granth Sahib represents the core while the congregation (Sadh Sangat) represents the support.
According to Sikhism, when a girl attains maturity, it is incumbent upon her parents to look for a suitable match for her. It is neither desirable nor proper to marry a girl at tender age. The daughter of a Sikh should be given in marriage to a Sikh. If a man is a believer in Sikhism, is humble by nature, and earns his bread by honest means, with him matrimony may be contracted without a question and without consideration for wealth and riches. Sikh marriages are usually arranged. The people from other cultures do not always properly interpret the word arranged. An arranged marriage does not mean forcing man or woman into wedlock of parents choice only. It is agreeing to marriage proposed by mutual discussion between the man and the woman on one side and his and her parents and relatives on the other. This is in fact selecting the right partner with the approval of all. Most importantly the man and woman themselves must get to know each other to convey their consent to their parents.
The Sikh marriage is monogamous. In the case of broken marriage, divorce is not possible according to the Sikh religious tradition. The couple can, however, obtain a divorce under the Civil law of the land. Marriage, in Sikhism, is regarded as a sacred bond in attaining worldly and spiritual joy. About the ideal marriage, the Guru says: They are not husband and wife who only have physical contact rather they are wife and husband who have one spirit in two bodies.The fourth Guru, Guru Ramdas Ji, originally composed Lavan, the wedding song, to celebrate a holy union between the human soul (Atma) and God (Parmatma). The Guru wishes that our married life should also be molded on the ideal laid down for our union with the Parmatma. The bride and bridegroom then share their life, happiness and sorrow; from two individuals they become Ek Jot Doe Murti meaning one spirit in two bodies.
As soon as the bridegroom, and the two families are assembled the Milnee is performed, which involves the meeting of parents and close relatives of the bride and groom and exchange of presents. The marriage ceremony is conducted in a Gurdwara or at the bride's home or any other suitable place where Guru Granth Sahib is duly installed. A priest or any Sikh (man or woman) may conduct the ceremony, and usually a respected and learned person is chosen. Appropriate hymns for the occasion are sung while, family, friends, guests and groom arrives.
The groom is first seated before Guru Granth Sahib and when the bride comes she take her place on his left. The couple and their parents are asked to stand while the rest of congregation remains seated. A prayer is then conducted invoking Gods blessings for the proposed marriage and asking His Grace on the union of the couple. This connotes the consent of the bride and the bridegroom and their parents. The parties then resume their seats and a short hymn is sung. Upon translation, the hymn would read as follows-
Call upon God for task thou wouldst have accomplished, He will bring the tasks to rights, so witnesseth the Guru. In the company of the holy thou shalt rejoice and taste only nectar, Thou art the demolisher of fear, thou art compassionate, 0 Lord, Nanak singeth the praises of the Incomputable Lord.
This is followed by a brief speech addressed particularly to the couple, explaining the significance and obligation of the marriage. The couple is then asked to honor their vows by bowing together before Guru Granth Sahib. Then the bride's father places one end of saffron-colored scarf in the groom s hand, passing it over the shoulder and placing the other end in the bride's hand. Thus joined, the two will take the vows. This is followed by a short hymn.
Praise and slander have I all ceased to relish, O Nanak, False, I count all other relationships, To the fold of Thy fabric am I now affianced. (SGGS 963)
Guru Granth Sahib is now opened and the first verse of Lavan is read from it. The same verse is then sung by the musicians while the couple slowly encircles Guru Granth Sahib. The groom leads in a clock-wise direction and the bride, holding the scarf, follows as nearly as possible in step. When the couple reaches the front of Guru Granth Sahib, they both bow together and take their respective seats. The same protocol is repeated for the remainder three verses.
The 4 verses of Lavan explain the four stages of love and married life. After translation into English the Lavan quartet or the Sikh epithalamium would read as follows-
First Lavan (Emphasizes the performance of duty to the family and the community)
By the first nuptial circuiting The Lord sheweth ye His Ordinance for the daily duties of wedded life The Scriptures are the Word of the Lord, Learn righteousness, through them, And the Lord will free ye from sin. Hold fast to righteousness, Contemplate the Name of the Lord, Fixing it in your memory as the scriptures have prescribed. Devote yourselves to the Perfect and True Guru. And all your sins shall depart. Fortunate are those whose minds Are imbued with the sweetness of His Name, To them happiness comes without effort; The slave Nanak proclaimeth That in the first circling The marriage rite hath begun.
Second Lavan (Signifies the stage of yearning and love for each other)
By the second circumambulation, Ye are to understand that the Lord Hath caused ye to meet the True Guru, The fear in your hearts has departed; The filth of selfness in your minds is washed away, By having the fear of God and by singing His praises I stand before Him with reverence, The Lord God is the soul of the universe! There is naught that He doth not pervade. Within us and without, there is One God only; In the company of saints Then are heard the songs of rejoicing. The slave Nanak proclaimeth that in the second circling Divine Music is heard
. Third Lavan (Signifies the stage of detachment or Virag)
In the third roundabout, There is a longing for the Lord And detachment from the world. In the company of the saints, By our great good fortune, We encounter the Lord. The Lord is found in His purit, Through His exaltation, Through the singing of His hymns. By great good fortune we have risen. In the company of the saints Wherein is told the story Of the Ineffable Lord. The Holy Name echoes in the heart: Echoes and absorbs us. We repeat the Name of the Lord, Being blessed by a fortunate destiny Written from of old on our foreheads. The slave Nanak proclaimeth That in the third circling The love of God has been awakened in the heart.
Fourth Lavan (Signifies the final stage of harmony and union in married life during which human love blends into the love for God)
In the fourth walk-around, The mind reaches to knowledge of the Divine And God is innerly grasped: Through the Grace of the Guru We have attained with ease to the Lord; The sweetness of the Beloved Pervades us, body and soul. Dear and pleasing is the Lord to us- Night and day our minds are fixed on Him. By exalting the Lord We have attained the Lord-The fruit our hearts desired- The Beloved has finished His work. The soul, the spouse, delighteth in the Beloved s Name. Felicitations fill our minds- The Name rings in our hearts- The Lord God is united with His Holy Bride. The heart of the Bride flowers with His Name. The slave Nanak proclaimeth That in the fourth circling We have found the EternalLord.(SGGS 773 -74)
The ceremony is concluded with the customary singing of the six stanzas of the Anand Sahib (Song of Bliss), followed by Ardas (prayer), and Vak (a random reading of a verse from Guru Granth Sahib). The ceremony, which takes about an hour, ends with the serving of Karah Parshad to the congregation.
Before and after the religious ceremony numerous cultural customs are conducted. Practices contrary to Sikhism are: the tying of head-bands, rituals depicting ancestor-worship, pretended sulking or sadness, singing by professional dancing-girls, the drinking of alcohol, burning of so-called sacred fires, holding bride while circling, and many other similar customs derived from cultural practices.
A SIKH MARRIAGE:HOW IT UNFOLDS
Preparations at Home
If Sri Guru Granth Sahib is installed at home, it is usually kept in a separate room out of reverence and respect. Any religious ceremonies at home center around Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Departure of the Braat
Close family and friends are invited to the house to depart together for the Gurdwara. Everyone receives tea and snacks before departing.
Arrival at the Gurdwara
Keeping an old Sikh tradition alive the groom has arranged to arrive by horseback for themeeting of the families.
Performing Ardas
Ardas is the common Sikh prayer and is invoked at the start and conclusion of every Sikh event.Here both families perform Ardas on their meeting each other.
The Milni
A simple ceremony takes place and both families exchange well wishes on meeting each other. This is followed by light snacks and tea before the religious ceremony begins.
Entering the Gurdwara
Ragis perform kirtan (the singing of hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib) as people begin toenter the Gurdwara for the beginning of the ceremony. This is when the bride makes here first public appearance of the day. Men and women sit on opposite sides of the Gurdwara hall at equal distances from Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Non Sikh male and female visitors and guests can usually sittogether if they wish
. Reading of the Lavans
The religious ceremony can be conducted by any respected Sikh man or woman. In this case it is being conducted by the local granthi who is in charge of respectfully looking after Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The ceremony officially begins with the officiate after having ascertained that both the bride and groom are Sikh asking the couple to stand up as well as their parents for Ardas. This family Ardas indicated the public consent of the parties involved to this marriagetaking place. Every time the bride and groom arise or sit down during the ceremony they will bow down to Sri Guru Granth Sahib out of respect by touching their foreheads to the ground. After Ardas the couple sit down and the officiate then lectures the couple in the significance of marriage, their duties and obligations to each others as equal partners. The couple indicate their agreement to these guidelines and principles by bowing down before Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The father of the bride then places one end of a scarf or sash worn by the groom over his shoulders in his daughters hand signifying that she is now leaving his care to join her husbands. The officiate now reads the Lavan hymn of Guru Ram Das which is composed of four stanzas. The four stanza of the hymn describes the progression of love between a husband and wife which is analogous to that between the soul (bride) and God (the husband). After the conclusion of the recitation of each stanza the groom followed by the bride holding the end of the scarf go around Sri Guru Granth Sahib in a clockwisedirection while the ragis sing out the recited Lavan stanza. After each round the couple sit down and listen while the officiate reads the next stanza. The ragis then sing it while the couple impletes another walk around Sri Guru Granth Sahib. This process is repeated four times in total for eachstanza of the Lavan after which the couple sit down. During their walk around Sri Guru Granth Sahib often there will be members of the girls family who help her complete her rounds with her husband.This is to signify their support for her as she leaves one family for another.
Conclusion of the Religious Function
After the Lavan the Anand hymn by Guru Amar Das is recited. This is followed by lectures and kirtan. The religious ceremony is formally concluded by the entire congregation standing for the final Ardas of the marriage. After this Sri Guru Granth Sahib is now opened to any page at random and the hymn is read out as the days order from the Guru for the occasion (hukamnama). Karah Prashad, ceremonial sacremental pudding is then distributed to everyone to mark the formal conclusion of the ceremony
Well Wishes from All
Both parents now congratulate the couple. In many cases guests now follow to present the couple with gifts of a cash offerings in their lap. In this wedding the couple declined these as they said they had received the ultimate gift, the blessing of the Guru. Everyone then leaves for the dining hall tosit on the floor in langer (the community kitchen) and enjoy a meal in the spirit of equality and humility
Aftermath
After the official religious ceremony concluded the couple ate in the langer hall and chatted with friends and family. They later went to a park to have some photographs taken and then journeyed to the brides home. When leaving her home the brides family and friends bid her a tearful farewell as she departs for her new home and life. The following day there was a party in a banquet hall with a cake cutting ceremony as well as the couple performing a first dance and exchanging their wedding rings. Family and friends then danced the nightaway and enjoyed dinner.
PUNJABI MARRIAGE
Throughout India, most marriages are arranged by the couples families and a generation ago it was not uncommon for bride and bridegroom to meet for the first time at the marriage ceremony itself. Nowadays, the personal preferences of the young people are given greater importance and families accept the childrens wish to get to know the potential spouse before making acommitment. Given the fact that marriage in India represents a very strong, lifetime commitment and society accepts divorce only in the most extreme circumstances, this is a very understandable wish.
As in every society, Punjabi society has its traditions to mark every stage of life from birth to death. Perhaps no other life-event is more surrounded by tradition than marriage.
After the young people have made up their mind to marry, the first step is a simple ceremony called rokai or thaka. The girls father, accompanied by some friends and relatives, visits the young mans house and presents sweets and a small gift of money. The engagement ceremony, or mangani, takes place when the boys family returns the visit and in the presence of friends and relatives the intended marriage is announced. Prayers are said at this time, and the couple exchange gifts.
The wedding itself is a grand affair stretching over several days and attended by all the relatives and innumerable friends. For nights before the ceremony, women gather to sing and dance. The bridegrooms entourage, the barat, has its own customs to observe more singing and dancing, decking up the bridegroom, tying a sort of ornamental veil, the sehra, over his face, leading him in procession, often on horseback, to the marriage venue to the accompaniment of a brass band. Milani is the ceremonial welcome of the barat at the gate of the marriage venue more gifts change hands with the bridegroom s family on the receiving end. Feasting is on a lavish scale.
The Hindu bride and bridegroom along with their parents will sit around the sacred fire while pandits chant the marriage mantras. They are deemed to be married after they have walked around the sacred fire lawan phere. The Sikh couple will sit before the holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, while prayers are said and the granthi instructs them on the duties of marriage; finally they will walk around the Guru Granth Sahib. Prasad, a buttery, wheat-flour based sweet, is distributed to all present and signals the completion of the ceremony.
After this, both Sikh and Hindu weddings are marked by more feasting. The concluding item is doli, literally palanquin, when the bride is given an emotional send off to her new home and family. More ceremonies await the bride at her husbands home but the main extravaganza is over. Another point of difference between Hindu and Sikh marriages is that Hindu marriages are usually performed at night, while Sikh marriages are performed in the morning.
A sect of the Sikhs, the Namdharis, as an article of faith, marry very simply and often in ceremonies where many couples are married at the same time. The parents of the boy and the girl settle the marriage but the approval of the head of the Namdhari sect is essential. Unlike Hindu and conventional Sikh marriages, dowry is not a part of the Namdhari marriage and the couples are dressed in simple white clothes. The scarves worn by the girl and boy and knotted together, and hymns from the Granth Sahib are sung.
A trend seen in recent times is to go through the procedures of the Indian Civil Marriage Act. 1956, after the traditional marriage has taken place. This is usually done because the couple plan to migrate to a foreign country and the civil marriage is useful in the matter of getting passports. The civil marriage is also frequently preferred by couples who belong to different castes or religions, or sometimes when they simply want to avoid a very costly and ostentatious ceremony.
BHANGRA DANCE AT PUNJABI MARRIAGES
Bhangra dance is based on music from a Punjabi folk drum, folk singing, a single stringed instrument called the iktar, the tumbii and the chimtaa. Social issues form the major theme of the bhangra songs. Love, relationship, money, marriage etc provide the base for the lyrics The accompanying songs are small couplets written in the Punjabi language called bolis. In Punjabi folk music, the dhols smaller cousin, thedholki, was nearly always used to provide the main beat. Nowadays, the dhol is used more frequently Bhangra is a lively form of folk music and dance that originates from Punjab. Punjabis performed Bhangra to celebrate the sucess of the harvest. People perform Bhangra on the day of Baisakhi, April 13. Bhangra is considered the king of dances.
During Bhangra, people sing Punjabi Boliyaan lyrics, at least one person plays the the dhol drum. The dancers begin to move in a circle around the drummer, who now and then lifts the two sticks, with which he beats the drum, to beckon the dancers to a higher tempo of movement.
The costume of a Bhangra dancer consists of a bright, colored Patka on the head, a lacha or lungi of the same color, a long tunic and a black or blue waistcoat and ghunghroos on the ankles. Some dancers also wear small rings (nuntian) in their ears.
Music
Social issues form the major theme of the bhangra songs. Love, relationship, money, marriage etc provide the base for the lyrics. In addition, the brave deeds of the great heroes of the state find narration in a song meant for bhangra. In particular, many bhangra tracks are written about Udham Singh and Bhagat Singh. Bhangra singers sing in a highly energetic tone, frequently adding the phrases like hoi hoi hoi, balle balle, oye hoi, or haripa to the music.
Outfits
Traditionalbhangra costume consists of a kurta that is similar to a silk buttoned shirt, has embroided patterns and is loose to wear. It is combined with lungi a cloth tied around the dancers waist that is usually decorated and jugi a waistcoat with no buttons. The dancers wear a turban (pugdee or patka) with torla a fan like structure and carry a rummal essentially, colorful scarves tied on to the fingers. The rummal look very effective when the hands move, during the course of the performance. Some dancers also wear small rings (nuntian) in their ears.
Movements
Bhangra is performed with a number of male dancers, who move around the drummer in a circle. The drummer, now and then, lifts the two sticks with which he beats the drum, to beckon the dancers to a higher tempo of movement. They start with a slow movement of their feet. As the tempo increases, first the hands and feet and then the whole body comes into action. They whirl round and round, bending and straightening their bodies alternatively, hopping on one leg, raising their hands, clapping with their hands and exclaiming Bale Bale! Oh Bale Bale! At intervals, the dancers stop moving, but continue to move to the rhythm with their feet. One of the dancers comes near the drummer and covering his left ear with his palm, sings a boali or dholla, derived from the traditional folk songs of Punjab. Picking up the last lines, the dancers again start dancing with greater vigor.
THE CODE OF SIKH CONDUCT AND CONVENTIONS
Anand Sanskar - Sikh Matrimonial Ceremony and Conventions
a. A Sikh man and woman should enter wedlock without giving thought to the prospective spouse's caste and descent.
b. A Sikhs daughter must be married to a Sikh.
c. A Sikhs marriage should be solemnized by Anand marriage rites.
d. Child marriage is taboo for Sikhs.
e. When a girl becomes marriageable, physically, emotionally and by virtue of maturity of character, a suitable Sikh match should be found and she be married to him by Anand marriage rites.
f. Marriage may not be preceded by engagement ceremony. But if an engagement ceremony is sought to he held, a congregational gathering should be held and, after offering the Ardas before the Guru Granth Sahib, a kirpan, a steel Karah and some sweets may be tendered to the boy.
g. Consulting horoscopes for determining which day or date is auspicious or otherwise for fixing the day of the marriage is a sacrilege. Any day that the parties find suitable by mutual consultation should be fixed.
h. Putting on floral or gilded face ornamentation, decorative headgear or red thread band round the wrist, worshipping of ancestors, dipping feet in rffiik mixed with water, cutting a berry or jandi (Prosopis spieigera) bushes, filling pitcher, ceremony of retirement in feigned displeasure, reciting couplets, performing havans (Sacrificial fire), installing vedi (a wooden canopy or pavilion under which Hindu marriages are performed),
b. i. The marriage party should have as small a number of people as the girls people
desire. The two sides should greet each other singing sacred hymns and finally by the Sikh greetings of Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki Fateh.
j. For marriage, there should be a congregational gathering in the holy presence of Guru Granth Sahib. There should be hymn-singing by ragis or by the whole congregation. Then the girl and the boy should he made to sit facing the Guru Granth Sahib. The girl should sit on the left side of the boy. After soliciting the congregation s permission, the master of the marriage ceremony (who may be a man or a woman) should bid the boy and girl and their parents or guardians to stand and should offer the Ardas for the commencement of the Anand marriage ceremony.
The officiant should then apprise the boy and the girl of the duties and obligations of conjugal life according to the Gurus tenets.
He should initially give to the two an exposition of their common mutual obligations. He should tell them how to model the husband-wife relationship on the love between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul in the light of the contents of circumambulation (Lavan) Sabads in the Suhi measure (Rag) section of the Guru Granth Sahib.
He should explain to them the notion of the state of a single soul in two bodies to be achieved through love and make them see how they may attain union with the Immortal Being discharging duties and obligations of the householders life. Both of them, they should be told, have to make their conjugal union a means to the fulfillment of the purpose of the journey of human existence both have to lead clean and Guruoriented lives through the instrumentality of their union.
He should then explain to the boy and girl individually their respective conjugal duties as husband and wife.
The bridegroom should be told that the girls people having chosen him as the fittest match from among a lot, he should regard his wife as his better half, accord to unflinching love and share with her all that he has. In situations, he should protect her person and honour, should be completely loyal to her and he should show much respect and consideration for her parents and as for his own.
The girl should be told that she has been joined matrimony to her man in the hallowed presence of the Guru Granth Sahib and the congregation. She should ever harbor for him deferential solicitude, regard him the lord master of her love and trust she should remain firm in loyalty to him and serve him in joy and sorrow and in every clime (native or foreign) and should show the same and consideration to his parents and relatives as she to her own parents and relatives.
The boy and girl should bow before the Guru Granth Sahib to betoken their acceptance of these instructions. Thereafter, the girl's father or the principal relation should make the girl grasp one end of the sash which the boy wearing over his shoulders and the person in attendance the Guru Granth Sahib should recite the matrimonial circumambulation stanzas Lavan of the Fourth Nanak, Guru Ram Das Sahib in the Suhi Rag of the Guru Granth Sahib (Pp. 773-4). After the conclusion of the recitation of each of the stanzas, the boy, followed by the girl holding the end of the sash, should go round the Guru Granth Sahib while the ragis or the congregation sing out the recited stanza.
The boy and girl, after every circumambulation, should bow before the Guru Granth Sahib in genuflexion, lowering their forehead to touch the ground and then stand up to listen to the recitation of the next stanza. There being four matrimonial circumambulation stanzas in the concerned hymn, the proceeding will comprise four circumambulation with the incidental singing of the stanza. After the four circumabulation, the boy and girl should, after bowing before the Guru Granth Sahib, sit down at the appointed place and the Ragis or the person who has conducted the ceremony should recite the first five and the last stanza of the Anand Sahib. Thereafter, the Ardas should he offered to mark the conclusion of the Anand marriage ceremony and the Karhah Parshad, distributed
. k. Persons professing faiths other than the Sikh faith cannot be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony.
l. No Sikh should accept a match for his/her son or daughter for monetary consideration.
m. If the girls parents at any time or on any occasion visit their daughters home and a meal is ready there, they should not hesitate to eat there. Abstaining from eating at the girls home is a superstition. The Khalsa has been blessed with the boon of victuals and making others eat by the Guru and the Immortal Being. The girls and boys people should keep accepting each other's hospitality, because the Guru has joined them in relationship of equality (Prem Sumarag)
. n. If a womans husband has died, she may, if she so wishes, finding a match suitable for her, remarry. For a Sikh man whose wife has died, similar ordinance obtains
. o. The remarriage may be solemnized in the same manner as the Anand marriage.
p. Generally, no Sikh should marry a second wife if the first wife is alive.
q. Amritdhari Sikh ought to get his wife also Amritdhari
.