Sikhs follow similar types of wedding rituals like Hindus. One of the main differences is that Hindus perform wedding by using Vedic text and Sikhs do it using the holy book, Adi Grantha, which is known as Guru Granth Sahib.
There are some pre-wedding rituals in Sikh marriage. Let’s review them one by one:
A Ceremony of Bliss:
A marriage in Sikhism is called as ceremony of bliss or Anand Karaj. It means a joyful union wherein bride and groom tie a knot and pledge to stay together lifelong. First of all Rumalla Sahib (it is a set of 4 embroidered cloths)is purchased during the wedding shopping to cover up the Guru Granth Sahib. Uncles and grandparents of the bride also spend money for clothes, accessories and jewelries. They also acknowledge their contribution in the marriage.
A formal get together of both of the families takes place in engagement. The family of bride visits the home of groom with a lot of gifts such as jewelries, clothes and sweets. The father of the bride or any other guardian offers a gold ring to the groom, gold coins (mohre) and a bangle (kada). Afterward, these gold coins are threaded into a black thread which is offered to the bride. The bride wears it in her neck that is similar to Mangalsutra worn by married Hindu women. However, Sikh women occasionally wear the black thread.
The Wedding Veil:
Once the engagement ceremony is complete, the family of groom goes to the house of bride. On Chunni ceremony close relatives and a few selected friends visit. The mother and aunts of grooms present a chunni to the bride. Traditional Punjabi embroidery is done on the chunni. The mother of groom also puts on henna (mehendi) on the bride’s palms. Cloths and jewelries are also given to the bride.
As the days progress after engagement for wedding, bride and groom get enough time to know each other. Maiyan gives the green signals for starting the singing and dancing of ladies to the beat of drums (dholkis).
This ceremony is held before a few days to the marriage. In the morning, a cream made of rosewater, sandal, a paste of turmeric and cream is applied on the body of bride. This paste is known as ubatan. Later on the bride is cleaned under a handmade cotton cloth known as Bagh. Similar type of ceremony happens in the house of groom as well.
Jaggo Ceremony is held the night before the wedding day. In this ceremony, bride’s maternal relatives get together. They beautify a copper vessel known as gaffar, with lamps (diyas). This looks superb and attracts guests. Mustard oil is used to light these diyas. The maternal aunt of bride put the vessel over her head. Other ladies put on a stick with small bells. This custom is also followed by Sikhs in cities and town as well. The women sing and dance in a traditional way.
Mehendi and Sangeet:
Followed by Jaggo Ceremony, Mehendi and Sangeet ceremony takes place. Henna (Mehendi) is applied on the hands of bride and other women in the family. They also sing and dance and enjoy their time. They love to apply Mehendi on their hands in different designs. A special type of Mehendi design is applied on bride’s hands and legs.
On the wedding day, the sister-in-law of groom and other women visit Gurduwara and fill an earthen pitcher (gharoli) with water. In the khare charna ceremony, groom takes bath with water. He sits on a stool to take the bathe and 4 girls hold a cloth over his head. It is one of the main ceremonies in Sikh marriages. Similar type of bath happens in the house of bride too. Once the bath is done, the bride wears the chura with twenty one white and read bangles. Her female friends and sisters tie golden metal plates (kalerien) to the bangles. She puts on the bridal outfit that is completely embroidered lehenga-chunni or salwar-kameez. A hair ornament called tikka is worn by the bride in the parting of hair and nose-ring called nath on the nose. Other jewelleries worn by the bride include a circular head ornament (chaunk) made of silver and gold, a gold necklace (kaintha), silver anklets (pajeb) and think bangles known as gokhru.
In the meantime, the groom wears his outfits to leave for the house of bride. Commonly he puts on a brocade ashcan (a type of long coat). The elderly male relatives of the groom’s family wear turbans of pick color. At the time groom is ready to leave for bride’s house, his bhabhi (brother’s wife) applies kohl (surma) to his eyes. Then he gives money to her with gratitude. This ceremony is called as surma pawai and then groom leaves for the house of bride on riding the horse.
The baraat reaches at the house of bride in the middle of music and dance. The relatives of bride welcome the guests. They greet the guests and offer them food and drink. Both family members share gifts and garlands. The groom goes inside and then female friends and sisters of bride tease him. A Sikh marriage commonly occurs before noon. Both families gather in Gurudwara.
Bride and groom sit facing the Adi Granth. There is a priest who informs them about all married life obligations. He chants the hymns of wedding written on the Granth Sahib.
During lawaan, both the bride and groom hold the end of a scarf. They walk around the the Granth Sahib and the groom stays ahead of the bride. Once they complete the 4th round, they are declared as marriage couple. Guests give them blessings and gifts.