Sikhs are the people living in Punjab and following Sikhism founded by Guru Nanak. They love fun and merry-making while strictly observing all specific Sikh rituals in their marriages. Hence, Sikh wedding invitations contain information about all these pre and post-wedding functions so that guests can join the new couple and their families to share their joy.
A Sikh wedding officially starts with the engagement ceremony called Kurmai, which is held mostly in the local Gurdwara or at the groom’s place. The bride and groom exchange rings and the bride’s family gives a Kada or bangle to the groom.
Special pre and post-wedding traditions of Sikhs
Chunni ceremony – This ceremony is held when the groom’s mother covers the head of the bride with a red chunni or scarf, as a mark of accepting her as her daughter-in-law. The groom puts a streak of vermillion on the head of his bride, who wears the outfit and jewelry gifted by her would-be in-laws.
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Jaggo – This ceremony is celebrated on the wedding morning by the maternal families of both bride and groom. They arrive at the wedding venue singing and dancing. Female relatives carry a decorated earthen pot or Gagger in turn on their heads while reciting Sikh Boliyan or couplets and dancing traditional folk dances.
Maiya – In this ritual, oil is applied with an olive branch to the hair of the bride and groom at their respective houses. A red scarf is held over the head of the bride or groom by the young girls of the family and turmeric powder is smeared on the body of the bride/groom by their female relatives while singing and dancing.
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Baraat – This is a grand procession when the groom traditionally rides a decorated white mare to arrive at the wedding venue. He is accompanied by his friends and relatives who dance merrily at the jovial beats played by a band.
Milni – When the groom and his family arrive at the wedding venue, they are welcomed by the bride’s family, by embracing each other warmly, called Milni or bonding. Then the bride’s mother conducts an arti of the groom and puts a vermilion tika on his forehead to welcome him inside the venue. The bride’s family offers gifts to the family members of the groom, starting from the eldest to the youngest.
Kirtan – The families of the bride and groom recite shabads or musical phrases from the holy scripture of Sikhs, which is called kirtan. It occurs in the Gurdwara where all assemble for the wedding ceremony called Anand Karaj while the bride and groom are sitting side by side on the ground before the Guru Granth Sahib.
Ardaas & Sikhia – It is the congregational prayer service when all stand up and remain silent, reflecting on their inner self. The bride and groom promise one another to live a pious life together as instructed by Sikh gurus. Ardas is conducted twice, before and at the end of the marriage ceremony. Sikhia is the custom when an elderly person of the Sikh community sits before the bride and groom and explains to them the religious teachings regarding an ideal marital life.
Laavan – It is a marriage prayer recited by the Sikh musicians of the Gurdwara called Ragis. Four verses of this prayer are sung when the bride and groom walk together four times circling the Guru Granth Sahib. The word ‘laava’ in Gurmukhi means ‘break away’ that signifies the entrance of the couple into the new phase of life.
Kara Prashad – This is a soft and sweet Halwa made of wheat flour, ghee, and sugar. It is distributed to all guests at the end of the wedding ceremony when the Guru Granth Sahib is closed. This ritual is a mark of sweetness developing between the two families, as part of the Sikh community.
Therefore, Sikh marriages are unique due to these traditions that all Sikh couples and their families make sure to follow earnestly.