By Raveena Hargun
A Sikh wedding ceremony begins with Roka or Thaka (pre-engagement). Once the family’s bride and groom agree and are happy, the arrangements for the wedding can start. Their families get close.
The groom’s family and his close family members will go and visit the bride’s family. This represents that the couple is engaged and will accept no further marriage proposals.
Within 4 weeks, the engagement starts with the exchange of gifts which are kurmari (gift baskets, watches) or Kara and chunni (women Scarf).
The groom wears surma and the bride will wear the suit that her mother-in-law gives her which shows that the bride is welcomed into the family. If you do this in the gurdwara ( temple) you sit for two hours doing payers.
Kurmai is on the boy and is done by the girl’s family. The Chunni focuses on the girl and is done by the boy’s family.
The two ceremonies signal that they have been given the blessing to be married. This can be either done in the temple or in a hall, but most people do it in the gurdwara (temple), though the event can be done separately.
Maiyan is a traditional ceremony taking place a few days prior to your wedding. This ceremony consists of friends and family rubbing a paste on the bride and groom.
The traditional meaning of Maiyan is to cleanse the skin and create a glow.
Traditionally, Maiyan is conducted three times starting two days or a week before the wedding. The bride and groom will do this separately. In the first Maiyan in the morning, you do Haldi (Tumeric) this is called a venta ceremony.
It is aimed at purifying the bride and groom. Their family and friends will do the venta on all over the body such as arms, legs feet and face which takes place in their homes.
Both the bride and groom cannot leave their house or changed their clothes during this period but nowadays, you can have a shower straight after. This is done for the security and safety of the bride and groom to be.
Second Maiyan begins with a rangoli or maiyan, which is made in the garden or veranda of the wedding home. It is made with coloured powder, flour, and rice. The design could be as intricate or adventurous as one would like and only the man’s and girl’s sisters and cousin sisters do this.
What is a Jago (Pre-wedding Party)?
Jago often means ‘staying awake’. the Jago ritual involves the relatives of the groom and bride, in their respective abodes, staying up all night. The idea is to celebrate the wedding and make merry by dancing and partying. The aunt of the bride and groom takes an earthen pot (Jago) filled with candles (lights) and places it on her head and dances. The pot is further passed on to other family members and friends as well. There is also chajja which is smashed with one or two sticks.
Choora (bangles) ceremony is where the bride’s maternal uncles/mama gift the bride with a set of red and white bangles or choora which is dipped in milk before the bride’s mama (uncle) put them on her. After this, some of the bride’s family will put kalires (golden ornaments) that are tied onto one of the bangles.
Before the wedding starts the groom’s turban is tied for him by his father and the groom will be given his kirpan (sword) which is carried throughout the wedding ceremony.
The sister of the groom will tie the Sehra which is made of golden ribbon, flowers, or a string of pearls around the groom’s turban which is covering his face.
The bhabi/sister-in-law will put Surma Khol (eyeliner) onto the side of his forehead and the groom’s sister will tie a piece of jewellery onto his turban.
Then everyone will leave the house to join the dance around the groom’s car where they will then go to the gurdwara. The baraata (groom’s wedding procession) will be welcomed at the gate of the gurdwara.
After the welcoming, they will go into the langar hall (dining area) and have tea, samosa and pokara.
Anand Karaj means the blissful union which takes place at the gurdwara. The wedding ceremony is centred around the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy book).
The groom will enter the ceremony hall first then once the bride arrives, they will sit next to each other on the floor, and the bride will sit on the left side of the groom and facing the Guru Granth sahib.
The couple will bow down before the Guru Granth Sahib, the father of the bride will place the palla (red scarf) on the groom’s shoulder and give the other end to the bride. This symbolised that they are joined and are ready to take the lava.
This is a four lavan or stanza from the Guru Granth Sahib and after the reading of the first stanza, the couple will walk slowly round the Guru Granth sahib in a clockwise direction with the groom will be leading the bride.
Raagis sing the lavan in the background while the couple performs the phras. The raagis sing the hymns of the Anand sahib and then followed by the ardass (presenting the prayers) which is offered as an indication the wedding ceremony is over and prassad will be distributed to everyone among the congregation.
A reception party is hosted by the groom’s family to honour the newlywed couple. They invite family and friends to join in to dance and party away until the main course meal is served.
During this period, the bride and groom will get served their roti which signifies the bride’s first meal as a married woman. Her father-in-law will cover the platter with a cloth and present it to the bride alongside with some money.
The bride will share the meal with the groom while everyone will be dancing and eating until the end of the ceremony.
The doli celebration marks the bride’s final departure from her paternal home. She will throw rice grains over her shoulders and her mother will try and catch them wishing her parents eternal prosperity.
Family and friends will say goodbyes and send her off to her new home.