7. Wedding Ceremony | Sikh Code | v2

Wedding Ceremony/Ceremony of Bliss

In the past, society of India was divided into four caste groups and four stages of life (child, student, householder/family and spiritual/old age) for the effective functioning of all tasks.

The life of a celibate holy man was considered the highest lifestyle and the accepted method to reach God.

The householder’s life was considered as the worst lifestyle and it was thought to be an obstacle on the path to spiritual enlightenment:

It was this teaching that forced Kings like Partharī and Gopī Chand to give up their kingdoms, get their ears pierced and live in jungles.

However, having done this, and wandering with a stick in one hand and a satchel over the shoulder, begging for food, they still ended up crying in anguish:

"The King cries after getting his ears pierced, He goes from house to house begging for sustenance." (SGGSJ Ang 954)

By detaching yourself from ordinary life, leaving your home and surviving off wild fruits in jungles, the love of God is not achieved and even the love of sin is not removed in this way:

”Bilāval: Abandoning his household, he may go to the forest, and live by picking fruit: but even so, his sinful, evil mind does not renounce corruption."
(SGGSJ Ang 855)

"You call her mother, but are lured by the three qualities, the mind, the eyes and the ears:

- The mind wants sexual contact with a woman,
- the eyes want to see an attractive woman and
- the ears want to hear the sweet words of a woman.
"
(SGGSJ Ang 90S)

The person still remains entangled in sin. Many “holy men” have gone and lived in jungles, yet they regretted doing so and Satguru says:

"Instead of wearing these beggars' robes, it is better to be a householder, and give to others." (SGGSJ Ang 587)

Going to live in the jungles would be of use if God himself lived in the jungle:

God is to be attained within yourself, by tuning into the Śabad, so what need is there to go anywhere else?

This is why Bhagat Farid has said living in jungles is a waste of time:

"Foreed Ji says, why do you wander from jungle to jungle, crashing through the thorny trees? The Lord abides in the heart; Why are you looking for Him in the jungle?”
(SGGSJ Ang 1378)

"Dhanāsarī, Ninth Saroop (Form):

Why do you go looking for Him in the forest? Although he is unattached, he dwells everywhere. He is always with you as your companion. Pause.

Like the fragrance which remains in the flower, and like the reflection in the mirror, the Lord dwells deep within: search for Him within your own heart, O Siblings of Destiny."
(SGGSJ Ang 684)

The destruction of ego is to be achieved by immersing your heart in Nām, then God is attained.

"Ego is opposed to the Name of the Lord; the two do not dwell in the same place.
(SGGSJ Ang 560)

A question was posed to Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, why doesn't Nām become imbued in our hearts?

Guru jī replied:

"You have a love for making gold jewellery, you have a love for making silver dishes, you have a love for lusting after the opposite sex, and a love for putting sandalwood fragrance on.” (SGGSJ Ang 15)

When all exterior tastes, desires and attachments have been extinguished, then Vaheguru's Nām will become imbued in your heart and reveal itself. Vaheguru will become self-revealed at this point.

The aim is to stay detached from worldly passions and to imbue Nām into the mind, not to wonder uselessly in jungles. This is why Satguru jī says

A Sikh is to be a householder, if the Sikh is a true Sikh (i.e. a Brahma-jñāni) and one meets such a Sikh, one is to surrender at the feet of such a Sikh and do their seva in humility," (Bhai Gurdas jī Var. 6. Pauri 2)

The Gurus stayed detached from worldly passions whilst living the life of householders and preached the same message to their Sikhs:

"Yoga is not obtained by wearing saffron robes:
Yoga is not obtained by wearing dirty robes.
Guru ji says:
Yoga is obtained even while sitting in your own home,
by following the Teachings of the True Guru.
" (SGGSJ Ang 1421)

"Guru jī says, meeting the True Guru, one comes to know the Perfect Way. While: laughing, playing, dressing and consuming fine foods, he/she is liberated."
(SGGSJ Ang 522)

Today many people have forgotten the above teachings and started to live outside the boundaries laid down by Gurmat, doing what they feel is right or wrong.

Some Amritdhari Sikhs marry non-Amritdharis just for money but this is not right. The marriage should not be based upon desire for wealth etc. A marriage should be based on the same Dharma and qualities in both people.

According to Gurmat both the bride and bridegroom should be Amritdhari. The Marriage should be a good deed and not involve taking money from your daughters/sisters. No form of dowry (gifts from the Bride’s family) should be given or accepted.

Bhai Sahib Singh jī writes in a Rehatnāma:

"Guru Gobind Singh jī is saying that the Sikh that marries his daughter to a Sikh and does not take any money, he is a true Sikh of mine and will reach my abode in Sach Khand."
(Bhai Sahib Singh Rehatnāma p. 160)

The bride and bridegroom should be Amritdhari, follow the Rehat, recite Nitnem and as much additional Gurbani as possible and have knowledge of Sikh history.

Besides their Rehat, their principles, age, Dharma, education, appearance and other qualities are to be taken into consideration.

Ideally, the bride should be about four years younger than the bridegroom.

At the Engagement the bride’s family are to give the bridegroom a token of five Rupees (£, $ etc.) and a Kirpan with a Gātra.

The groom’s family should give the bride a token gift of five Rupees (£, $ etc.), a Kangha and a Kirpan with a Gātra.

At the time of the Engagement, the groom's family should start either an Akhand Pāth or a Sahej Pāth. After the Bhoj, Karah Prasad must be distributed and Kirtan sung.

However, if for any reason, an Akhand Pāth or Sahej Pāth cannot be performed, then the Engagement must be conducted in the presence of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

"Whatever job needs doing, make a supplication in front of the Lord. ‘May you make perfect what I am about to do’, this is Satguru Sahib Ji's true teaching."
(SGGSJ Ang 91)

Similar śabads should be recited. Following a Hukamnāma, the groom should be given the five rupees and Kirpan with a Gātra. The following śabad should be recited simultaneously:

"Oh my beloved, Lord, please grace me with presence of those saints, by the meeting of whom my tongue may continuously recite Nām.” (SGGSJ Ang 743)

Only Karah Parshad is to be distributed.

Eating dates, putting on a Tilak (Hindu marking on the forehead), singing inappropriate songs, whistling, putting on sinful records etc. are all prohibited.

On such happy occasions drinking alcohol, eating meat and other sinful actions are not to be performed. The giving and taking of clothes, jewellery etc. is prohibited.

When the couple are ready to enter marriage, then the relations of both families are to meet and collectively decide on a date, not paying any notice to superstitions and staying within Gurmat.

"You calculate the auspicious days, but you do not understand that the One Creator Lord is above these auspicious days.“ (SGGSJ Ang 904)

On the wedding invitation "God is One - He is realised by the True Guru’s Grace" is to be written, by which all obstacles are removed and the event is successfully completed.

According to the capabilities of the families, an Akhand Pāth or Sehaj Pāth should be held a few days before the Anand Karaj.

During this happy occasion Vadhans of the 4th Guru is to be sung and other Gurbani of a similar nature is to be recited at the bride and bridegrooms homes.

Folk songs are not to be sung and only Gurbani is to be recited. The bride is not to wear any jewellery and in addition make-up, bindi and the wearing of sārīs is not allowed.

The bridegroom’s family is to perform Ardas, take a Hukamnāma from Sri Guru Granth Sahib jī and then start their journey for the wedding.

The marriage party of the bridegroom is to be small. Playing dirty songs, hiring female dancers, doing bhangra and dancing about is prohibited.

The following superstitions are not to be heeded to - making pigtails of grass, pouring oil, and wearing a Sehra (chaplet).

Many argue that Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji wore a Sehra around his head at his wedding and Gurdwara Sehra Sahib at Anandpur Sahib has been built to commemorate this.

But this practice was prevalent before Khanda Amrit was prepared. Afterwards, wearing a Sehra was prohibited.

Money is not to be waved over the heads of either the bride or bridegroom.

The following superstitions/practices are also prohibited:

1.  Wearing a Kalgi (which was worn by Guru Gobind Singh Ji as a sign of his Sovereignty);

2.  Giving a ceremonial bath to the bride or bridegroom on the eve of the wedding and breaking objects after the bath;

3.  Putting on a paste prepared with oil, barley flour and turmeric;

4.  Drinking water after waving it over the heads of the bride/bridegroom; and

5.  Bowing to the shrines of ancestors/saints etc.

These useless actions are not to be performed.

When the bridegroom and his family arrive at the place of the wedding ceremony, the following śabad is to be read.

"My friends have come into my home" (SGGSJ Ang 764)

Other similar Śabads are also to be recited.

Upon arrival at the house of the bride, all are to greet each other by saying “Gurfateh" to one another.

Money is not to be thrown. An Ardas is to be performed to ensure a smooth running ceremony proceeds.

The singing of abusive songs ridiculing the bridegroom’s family by the bride’s family, or tying a ribbon to hold the bridegroom’s family back from entering, are all prohibited.

Food is to be eaten after reciting the following Salok,

"By coming under the sanctuary of the Lord; Lust, anger, greed, emotional attachment and ego are eradicated. Upon the blessing of Sri Guru Ram Das Sahib is the sanctuary of the Lord attained." (SGGSJ Ang 269)

After eating, water is to be offered to cleanse hands and mouths and Ardas is to be performed.

The wedding is to be performed at the Gurdwara, regardless of the size of the house of the bride.

If it is not possible to perform the Anand Karej at a Gurdwara, only then is the house of the bride to be used for the wedding. Sri Guru Granth Sahib should be seated in the cleanest and nicest place in the home.

"Let yourselves be joined to the Name of the Lord: become Gurmukh, spread out your mat. and sit down." (SGGSJ Ang 1185)

In line with Gurmat both families are to respectfully sit in the presence of Guru Sahib.

The bride is to enter the Darbar Sahib with her face uncovered and bow to Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The bridegroom and bride are to sit in front of Guru Sahib.

The bridegroom is to sit on the right and the bride to his left. They should sit on the same level as the Sangat and not on any raised platform/spread.

After both have been seated, the couple and their father’s (uncles, brothers or cousins may stand in their place if required) are to stand for an Ardas for the commencement of the Anand Karej.

The Recital of Pāth and Parkarma

The Granthi recites the first verse of the Lava and the couple are to listen to it whilst remaining seated. After completing the verse, the Granthi Singh is to place the Romal Sahib back over Guru Sahib.

The Rāgī Singh is to perform Kirtan of the first Lava and the couple are to slowly proceed around Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji (keeping Guru Sahib to their right-hand side), after which they are to bow to Guru Sahib and be seated.

The bride is to walk by herself, around Guru Sahib, without any assistance. Nobody is to stand whilst this is occurring. The bride is not to cover her face at any point.

The Granthi Singh is then to recite the second Lav and the Ragees are then to sing the second Lav in the same manner as the first. This is to be repeated for the third and fourth Lavs. After the recital of each Lav it is essential that the Granthi Singh replace the Romal back over Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

If Rāgī Singhs cannot be found, then the Granthi Singh is to recite each Lav, place the Romal Sahib over Guru Sahib and then recite “Satnam, Vaheguru" whilst the couple proceed around Guru Sahib. The four Lavs are to be performed in this manner.

Whilst the couple are proceeding around Guru Sahib, the Granthi Singh is not to get up and leave the throne of Guru Sahib upon which he is doing seva:

Some unintelligent/superstitious people think by the Granthi Singh remaining to stay sitting on the throne, he somehow also ‘weds’ the bride.

The Granthi Singh is the Minister of Guru Sahib, the bride cannot become married to him as her hand was already asked for marriage by the bridegroom and also prior to the Lavs she held the ‘Pula' (tassel) of the bridegroom so she is committed to marry him.

The couple must proceed around Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. Many remain seated and perform the Anand Karaj in this way, this is against Gurmat and should never be done.

"Those feet that do Parkarma (circumambulations in clockwise direction) of Guru Sahib jī are priceless." (Kabit Svaye Bhai Gurdas jī p. 17)

By proceeding around Satguru jī this signifies the sacrificing of one’s mind, body and wealth. The circumambulating is a mark of respect signifying that Guru Sahib is greater than ourselves. The couple are begging for protection and assistance and signifying that they are the servants of Guru Sahib.

If Parkarma are not performed during the time of happiness then when will it ever done? Parkarma are not to be performed around a fire, or any god, goddesses, persons, idols etc.

After the Lavs, whilst the Rāgīs are singing Śabads, the Granthi Singh is to mentally recite the 40 verses of Anand Sahib whilst sitting in the presence of Guru Sahib (upon Guru ji’s throne). If there are no Rāgī Singhs then the Anand Sahib is to be recited out aloud to the sangat.

Teachings are to be given to the couple (about how they should proceed in their lives as a married couple, which are all in line with Gurmat).

If a person is remarrying, the exact ceremony is still to be performed including Lav’s around Sri Guru Granth Sahib. A list of relatives is not to be read out. An Ardas is to be performed and a Hukamnāma read, then Karah Parshad is to be distributed afterwards.

On this occasion, the couple is to listen carefully to the gurmat teachings given to them for successful guidance in both worldly and spiritual realms.