UK marriage laws allow for temples to be registered for the solemnisation of marriages according to the rites of the Sikh religion. The legal requirements to be fulfilled are those that apply to civil marriages.
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However, if the building in which you wish to marry is in a different registration district to where you live, you need to prove to the superintendent registrar that the building is your normal place of worship. If you cannot do this, you will be required to give notice in the registration district in which the building is situated after having met the necessary residency requirements.
If there is no building in the registration district in which you live, you will be permitted to marry in a building in the nearest registration district that has one.
A superintendent registrar may also need to attend the ceremony. If the building in which you intend to marry is not registered for the solemnisation of marriages, you must arrange a civil ceremony beforehand to comply with the requirements of the law.
Preparations for a Sikh wedding
Sikh weddings are traditionally arranged marriages where both families help to choose the marriage partner for their offspring. Both of their individual agreement is sought before marriage is considered.
An engagement (called the Kurmai) is not deemed necessary but, if desired, is typically performed a week before the wedding and is usually conducted at the temple or at the groom’s home.
If the ceremony is performed at home, the bride’s family visit the groom’s house and in both cases he is usually presented with a Kara (bracelet), kirpan (sword) or Indian sweets. The bride’s family are presented with an clothes and sweets as gifts for their daughter.
Different Sikh families have different customs for preparing the bride before her wedding. Some families have five of the bride’s close relatives to stay with the bride for the days leading up to the wedding day. They comb a mixture of henna, oil and water through the bride’s hair, and paint her hands and legs with henna designs. On the day before the wedding, a party of the groom and his relatives, known as the Baraat, are welcomed, given food and entertained. The party either stay at the bride’s home ready for the early morning service, or travel straight to the wedding location.
The Sikh Wedding Ceremony
The sikh wedding ceremony is called The Anana Karaj meaning “Blissful Union” or “Joyful Union”, and was introduced by Guru Amar Das ji.
At the ceremony, the groom is seated first. The bride is led to her seat by her mother, and is seated on the groom’s left. The couple sit facing the Granthi, the officiator who reads from the holy book. Any good Sikh – male or female – may officiate at the marriage ceremony. The couple and their parents stand and bow to Sri Guru Granth Sahib to show their consent to the marriage.
The ceremony opens with the singing of the Asa di Var, the Gurus’ morning hymn. Other hymns may also be sung at this time. The Granthi will make sure that the couple are Sikhs, and that they agree to marry. The couple and their parents are asked to stand while the Granthi prays to the God Almighty, asking his blessing for the marriage before sitting while a short hymn is sung:
After which the Granthi makes a speech explaining the significance of Sikh marriage:
The Granthi asks the bride and groom to signify their approval to their marriage and if they agree to accept their duties. They bow before Sri Guru Granth Sahib to acknowledge their consent. The bride’s father places one end of the pallah (scarf) in the groom’s hand, over the groom’s shoulder and the other end into the bride’s hand. This symbolises the couple’s unity. Once they are joined, they take their sacred vows, followed by a short hymn:
The Lavan marriage hymn is read with the groom, followed by the bride, walking around Sri Guru Granth Sahib in a clockwise direction at the completion of each of the four verses which symbolise the four stages of love. After each circuit, the bride and groom kneel and bow towards Sri Guru Granth Sahib. They are only married once they have made four circuits. After the couple and their relatives have walked around the holy book, the parents and grandparents of the couple stand up, to show their regard to the fact that they will support the couple. The couple bow when they reach the front of the holy book and take their seats
The first verse describes the preparation and justification for the state of marriage, which is encouraged and supported as the best state of life for a Sikh. It rejects the idea that the religious person who dedicates his life to God should remain single.
The second verse describes the first feeling of love when the bride has left her old life behind and begins the new life of partnership with her husband.
The third verse describes the bride’s detachment from the world and outside influences, when she becomes more deeply devoted to her husband and wishes to live only for him.
The fourth verse tells of the most perfect love and devotion when no feeling of separation is possible between the two. On the purely spiritual plane, it would be as if the two souls have reached complete union with God and have found perfect joy of his love.
The marriage ceremony is concluded with the singing of the six stanzas of the Anand hymn, which was written by Guru Ram Das, after which Ardas (a prayer) is spoken, with the whole congregation joining in. The final point of the ceremony is a reading of a verse from the holy book, followed by the serving of sacred food to the congregation made from flour and sugar, known as Karah Prashad.
Everyone present at the wedding ceremony walks up to the front to congratulate the newly married couple. Some guests may place their hands on the heads of the bride and groom, as a blessing. Another tradition that may take place at this point is that of placing a token sum of money in to the pink scarf still held by the bride and groom.
Cars for hire for Sikh weddings
Should you require a wedding car for a Sikh wedding please contact us.
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