A Sikh wedding
By Joe Burke
The Sikh wedding ceremony is known as "Anand Karaj" which means 'Blissful Union". The Sikh marriage is a very colourful and unique ceremony in which two individuals are joined in a partnership of two equals.
It is not merely a physical and legal contract but a sacrament - a holy union between two souls. The spiritual goal of any Sikh is to merge his or her soul (atma) with God (Parmatma) and in marriage, the couple vow to help each other towards this goal.
The early part of the day is devoted to the religious ceremony which almost always takes place in a Sikh Gurdwara (Sikh temple).
Before the wedding
In a Sikh Indian wedding, the wedding ambiance is set a week before the wedding. There are various rituals, which are followed before and after the wedding. Shagun or engagement is the first ceremony to mark the beginning of the wedding celebration. On this occasion the two families exchange gifts to conform the engagement. Among the pre wedding rituals engagement is the occasion where both the families meet and the bride's father takes care of all the ceremonial activities on this day. Various auspicious items are required on this day that includes coconut, dry dates, sugar and money and these are sent to the groom's family. It is also called the Tilak ceremony, which is performed by a bhaiji or preacher from the Gurudwara who first reads the hymn, offers a date to the groom and applies tilak on his forehead, marking the engagement.
An event of the tilka ceremony.
After the tilak ceremony, the groom's father sends gifts of clothes, sugar, coconut, rice, jewelry and henna to the bride. Similarly the bride's father also offers gifts to the groom and his family members. Another important pre wedding ritual involves the bangle ceremony or the choora ceremony, which is held at the bride's place where the maternal uncle and aunt of the bride put white and red bangles on...