Guru Amar Das says,
They are not said to be husband and wife who merely have physical contact only. Rather they alone are called husband and wife who have one soul in two bodies.In general terms, marriage is described as the union of a man and a woman to live together as husband and wife according to the standard set out in the holy scriptures. Some people say that marriage is socially permitted, legally agreed or religiously allowed sexual partnership. A civilized way of this expression varies from people to people.
Dn ipru eyih n EwKIEin bihn iekTy hoie |
eyk joiq duie mUrqI Dn ipru khIEY soie || 3||
-Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p.788, Var Suhi.
Marriage institution is the most oldest and natural institution. During the last few thousand years of our cultural history, marriage and extended family has been the basis of our social structure. According to Encyclopedia Americana,
while the original form of marriage is lost in the oblivian prehistorical period, it is safe to say that during historical times some form of marriage has been present in all societies.
-Encyclopedia Americana, Vol-18, p.311, 1975
The most enduring and intimate relationship between man and woman is formalized in an institution older than recorded history and it is called marriageAccording to Recee Mc Gee,
-Men And Women by Peter Swerdloff, p.28
“Marriage involves a stable set of socially recognized relationship between husband and wife”.It is an exalted even revered institution.
According to Jeremy Taylor,
Marriage is the mother of the world.Dr. Johnson defines,
-Vital Facts of Life by Carl H.Harman and E.W.Marquardt, 1953
Marriage is the strictest tie or perpetual friendship and there can be no friendship without confidence and there can be no confidence without integrity, and he must expect to be wretched, who pays beauty, riches and politeness that regard which only virtue and piety can claim.
Marriage is that relation between man and woman in which the independence is equal, the dependence mutual and the obligation reciprocal.According to Lal Singh,
-Louis Kanfman Anspacher
Marriage is an oath taking ceremony of two souls desirous of physical, intellectual and spiritual union.According to Promila Kapur,
-Anand Ceremony, The Sikh Review, 1972, p.35, Vol- XX, No:22
Marriage is a Sanskara and as such it is a sacrament and a religious bond which cannot be broken under any circumstances. Ideally, it aims not only at the individual's biological, emotional, social and spiritual fulfillments and development through union with a person of the opposite sex, but also at the development, fulfilment and welfare of the family, and through it of the society and mankind.Different Names of Marriage
-The Changing Status of The Working Woman in India, Vikas Publishing House, Delhi, p.6, 1975
Marriage is named differently in different cultures and at different places. it is called wedding, Shadi, Vivah or Nikah. This ceremony is called Anand Karaj in Sikhism. It has various modes and multiple kinds in different societies. Marriage has also been referred to as Viah and Vivah in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
My marriage has been performed, O' my father.
vIEwhu hoEw myry bwbulw.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p.78)
The wedding is performed with glorious splender.Anand Karaj in Sikhism
vIvwhu hoEw soB syqI
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p.765)
The ceremony of marriage, wedding, Viyah, Nikah or Shadi is called Anand Karaj in Sikhism. It is the legal wedding ceremony, recognized in Sikh Reht Maryada. According to the guidelines detailed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Sikh marriage is a sacred union between husband and wife who have one soul in two bodies. It is considered to be a divine institution with a sacred tie.
The ceremony of Anand Karaj gives equal status to man and woman. Both husband and wife, enjoy equality and freedom in spheres of life. Both of them, enjoy householder's life, love each other, love creation, love the path of Sikh faith, serve the human beings and seek unity with Almighty Lord. To attain unity with Almighty Lord is the theme, mission and objective of Sikh marriage.Marriage, a sacred Bond
Since before Roman times, this institution has been a matter of contract, at first between families, and later between the parties themselves. With passage of time, the form picked up certain religious trappings, then state sanction, and finally today it comes to us encrusted and hoary with centuries tangled in its hair. But it is still basically considered a contract under broad head of jurisprudence.
Marriage in Sikhism is regarded as a sacred bond of mutual help in attaining the heights of worldly life and spiritual bliss. It is a unity of mind and soul. It is a means to attain spirituality and not an end in itself. The real goal of marriage in Sikhism is union of both souls with Almighty Lord.-See Abstracts of Sikh Studies, April, 1995
God wants marriage to be a life long union between one man and one woman. Wilt thou love her (him) in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, keep thee only unto her (him) so long as ye you both shall live.Pre-marital and Extra-marital relationship
-Vital Facts of Life by Carl H.Harman and E.W.Marquardt, p.50, 1953
Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scripture, puts emphasis on purity of conjugal love. Pre-marital or extra-marital relationship is not allowed at all.
Bhai Gurdas writes,
“ Seeing other women, do not cast a lustful eye on them, instead consider them as your mother, sister and daughter.”Guru Gobind Singh is very particular about adulterous actions. He says,
Dekh prayia changian mawan bhaina dhian jane
dyiK prweIEw cMgIE~ mwv~ BYxw DIE~ jwxY |
-Varan Bhai Gurdas Steek, Bhai Gurdas, Var 29.11
Love your own wife more and more. Touch not another woman’s bed either by mistake or even in dream. Know that the love of another’s wife is a sharp dagger.Need and Objective of Marriage
inj nwrI ky swQ nyhu qum in@q bFYwhu |
pr nwrI kI syj BUil supny hMU n jYwhu ||
-Dasam Granth, Part-11, p-842
Sikh Marriage provides for intimate relationship between husband and wife with a feeling of love, commitment and mutual security. Its object is harmonious partnership in life, love, procreation, legalizing of children and union with God. From a worldly perspective, marriage is a natural function of human life and a sacrament in Sikhism.
God Himself after He created Adam, made the observation
It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.
-Holy Bible, Gen. 2:18
The marriage between one man and one woman accords with God's will and is not a natural development that gradually grew out of man's experience.God instituted marriage for the well-being and happiness of his people; for the purpose of establishing the home as the first and most important unit of society, in which children are to be born to perpetuate the human raceTo perpetuate the human race, God created man male and female; and blessing them, He said, Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.
-Vital Facts of Life by Carl H.Harman and E.W.Marquardt, p.49, 1953
This means that God ordained cohabitation, or sexual intercourse as an expression of love and for the purpose of begetting children. This is not end in itself. The end result of marriage according to Sikhism is unity with Almighty Lord.
Marriage arranged by parents
Traditionally, marriages were arranged by elders. The prospective partners rarely saw each other until the wedding day.
Most of the people consider that marriage is not just a union between two individuals but a coming together of two families, communities or even ethnic groups. Therefore, the matter of such a great importance cannot be left in the hands of the two individuals; both families have to agree on every detail.
Arrangements to bring two persons to agree for marriage are made differently in different communities. It is believed that different cultures cannot come to terms easily. To the people of western culture, other than Sikhism, this may sound oddly intrusive but few Sikhs may dare to defy the sacred tradition of arranged marriage. In majority cases, it is not rare to have arranged marriages, meaning a union initiated, sealed and delivered by the parents with consent of the two individuals involved ie. boy and girl.
Although trends are changing but still
marriage was and still is considered to be a union among families, not just of individuals.
(Ballard and Ballard, 1977)
In a typical, non-arranged marriage, after boy and girl meet, one of them informs the parents who either arrange to introduce themselves to the prospective other party or the family sends emmissary to them. Before consenting, some thrashing is conducted about the bride or bridegroom respectively. After satisfaction of both the families, a word of honour is given and performance of marriage is agreed upon mutually by the parents as well as the boy and girl.
Enactment on Anand Marriage
Prior to the year 1909, the marriages in many Sikh families were ceremonised according to Vedic Mantras. The Sikhs were not very comfortable with Vedic marriage ceremony. Towards the end of 19th century, the original Nirankaris supported performance of Sikh marriage keeping in view the Sikh philosophy. The Singh Sabha reformers adopted this rite of marriage. There had been a demand for an independent marriage ceremony Act. Keeping in view the Sikh pressure, a Bill (Anand Marriage) was introduced in the Imperial Legislative Council on October 30, 1908 by Tikka Ripudaman Singh of Nabha which was passed into a law on October 22, 1909. The Act was strongly supported by Sunder Singh Majithia, Kahan Singh and others. - Anand Marriage Act 1909, Act No:V11 of 1909.Marriage Hymns composed by Guru Ram Das
Guru Amar Das started performance of the ceremony of Anand Marriage (Ceremony of Bliss) by reciting Anand Sahib and Guru Ram Das supported it through marriage Shabads (hymns or four Lawan) composed in Suhi Rag enshrined in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh Scripture. -Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p.773Ceremony of Bliss
The Sikh marriage is described as Anand Karaj. Anand means 'bliss' and Karaj means 'ceremony'. So Anand Karaj means a ceremony of spiritual bliss, health of mind and body; and to be a step forward, merging of one's soul into another and thereby attaining unity with Ultimate Reality.
The word Anand Karaj sanctifies the marriage institution. Marriage in Sikhism is a religious obligation. It is neither a contract nor a business but a life long sacred and spiritual commitment. It is not a game but a union for the performance of social and religious duties to achieve the goal of human life and live for one-another. It is a tie of conjunction but there must be an element of consent. It is a spiritual union and an opportunity for serving God through service of humanity. It is sacramental and permanent marriage. It is unbreakable. Only death can break it.
Martin Luther once said, there is no more lovely, friendly, charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage *but that only occurs in its good time. It is not programmed as you would a computer; it does not just automatically happen; both of you have to make it happen.
According to Promila Kapoor ,
“ Marriage is a Sanskara and as such it is a sacrament and a religious bond which could not be broken under any circumstances. Ideally it aims not at the individual’s biological, emotional, social and spiritual fulfillment and development through union with a person of the opposite sex, but also at the development, fulfillment, and welfare of the family, and through it of the society and mankind.”Union of Families
-The changing status of the working woman in India, p.6
In addition to the spiritual and physical union, a Sikh marriage is also a union of families. It is believed that the marriages are a matter of Sanjog (Providential meeting), hence settled in heaven and performed on earth. It is therefore solemnized in presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the Sikhs. The Guru is witness to the ceremony.
All un-necessary ceremonies connected with the marriages are not condoned in Sikh way of life, however, some of the ceremonies which may and may not synchronise with the Sikh Reht Maryada are discussed in this chapter.
The Sikh marriage (Anand Marriage) in India is legally covered under The Hindu Marriage Act.
The legal concept of marriage under the Act is one of contract and there must be the consensus of the parties to the solemnization of the marriage. Legal requirement for acceptance of the marriage in foreign countries is registration of marriage under the marriage law of the respective land.
According to special Marriage Act 1954 (India), a civil marriage may be solemnized before a Registrar between any two persons. According to marital duties, the wife is bound to live with her husband and to submit herself to his authority. Marriage under the Act is the union of one man with one woman.-Mullas Hindu Law by S.T. Desai, p.518 ; 520
Monogamy and householder’s life is advocated in Sikhism to achieve the Truth and continue reproduction of future generations. Conjugal relations before marriage and extra marital relations during subsistence of existing marriage are extremely forbidden in Sikhism. Such immoral relations are regarded a cardinal breach of the Sikh faith. Separations and divorces on baseless and flimsy grounds are not acceptable in Sikhism. Marriage after the death of a spouse is allowed. It is strongly believed that marriage must be honorable among all and the marriage bed be without defilement and degradation.
In the past, polygamy was prevalent in the Indian society. Males used to have plurality of wives, the reason could be gap in gender population. This adversely effected on the women folk. This proved to be a blot on the fair name of the Indian society. Hence, there arose a need for marriage codification.
'Anand Marriage Act' is an enacted legislation for a Sikh marriage. According to explanation ll to Article 25 of the Indian Constitution, it has been laid down that in sub-clause (b) of Clause 2, the reference to 'Hindu' shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, the Jaina or the Budhist religions and the reference to the Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly. Consequently, in the exercise of power vested in the Government of India under the Constitutional provisions of Explanation ll to Article 25, various Hindu Personal Law Acts, namely;
- The Hindu Marriage Act 1956,
- The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act 1956,
- Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act 1956, and
- Hindu Succession Act 1956 have extended the application of these Acts to all the persons who can be construed or assumed to be Hindus, namely Sikhs, Jains and Budhists. Section 2 of the Hindu Marriage Act 1956 for instance, provides that this Act applies:-
- a) to any person who is Hindu by religion in any form or development, including a Vira-Shaiva or a Lingayat or a follower of Brahma Prathana or Arya Samaj;
b) to any person who is Budhist, Jain or Sikh by religion.
c) to any other person domiciled in the territories to which this Act extends, who is not a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew by religion.
It may be added that exactly the same provision has been incorporated in the other three Hindu Personal Laws / Acts of 1956 to which we have referred.
Marriage ceremony in Sikhism is very simple. There are no un-necessary ceremonies. However, certain ceremonies which are prevalent in some of the families are discussed here in light of the provisions of Sikh Reht Maryada. Many of the ceremonies are not encouraged in Sikhism but still a few of the people are performing them ritually on dogmatic beliefs.Rokana
Rokana means stop or pre-wedding agreement. There is a trend these days for the parents of the girl to go to the house of prospective groom. Take consent of the boy and his parents for a new relationship and give a small sum of money (Shagun) to the would be groom.Ring Ceremony
One nearly universal tradition has been that of the engagement ring. This custom can be dated back to the ancient Romans. It is believed that the roundness of the ring represents eternity. Therefore, the wearing of wedding rings symbolizes a union that is to last forever. It was once thought that a vein or nerve ran directly from the ring finger of the left hand to the heart.
Many people, especially women wear rings. The ring is considered a bond of unending love.
The ring ceremony is performed sometimes before marriage and sometimes at the time of performance of marriage. Sikhism believes in making the wedding ceremonies as simple as possible.Chunni Chadauna
Parents of the prospective groom go the house of girl's parents to give Shagun to the would be bride.
Due to some or the other reasons, people had been wearing jewelry for centuries together. The jewelry is made of gold, platinum or other precious metals studded with expensive gems, diamonds and jewels etc.
Wearing and keeping of jewelry is considered a social status, security against rainy days and financial distress, and as a health healer.Betrothal Ceremony (Mangni)
Before marriage takes place, a betrothal ceremony is generally performed which is called Mangni. When both sides are satisfied as to the compatibility of the match, a day is fixed for Mangni (betrothal). Literal meaning of Mangni is asking or begging. Betrothal also corresponds to Kurmai, Sagai or Shagan but it is not very essential ceremony (See Sikh Reht Maryada). Usually the betrothal ceremony takes place at the boy’s residence but some people have started performing this ceremony in Gurdwaras while few others perform it in hotels. The parents and kin of the girl go to the place of the boy for Mangani ceremony. Boy is seated in midst of the assembly in presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Ardas is offered which is a requirement in Sikhism.
Erdws ibnw jo kwj isDwvY |
goibMd isMG vh is@K n BwvY |
(Tankhah Nama Bhai Nand Lal)
kwrjoN ky Ewid mYN Erdws krY |Father or guardian of the girl gives Shagan / Chhuhara and puts some cash in the Jholi or scarf of the boy. In some cases, gold ring or bracelet is offered to the boy on betrothal ceremony. At this ceremony, the bride’s and bridegroom’s families exchange gifts but all this is not in consonance with the Sikh Reht Maryada.
(Rehtnama Bhai Chaupa Singh)
The congratulations are extended to each other and sweetmeats are distributed. The boy’s family in return sends some gifts to the girl. The giving of gifts is not mandatory. Generally, the betrothal ceremony takes place in presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib attended by friends and relatives. However, betrothal ceremony and other ceremonies are not an essential part of the marriage ceremony and are not encouraged by Sikh families.
According to Sikh Reht Maryada, “ Marriage may not be preceded by engagement ceremony. But If an engagement ceremony sought to be held, a congregational gathering should be held and, after offering the Ardas before the Guru Granth Sahib, a Kirpan, a steel bangle and some sweets may be tendered to the boy.-Sikh Reht Maryada, Chapter X1, ArticleXV111 (f)
Marriage is a sacred tie in Sikhism. Although betrothel is giving a word of honour but in some cases, betrothals are seen broken.Fixation of the marriage date
(Din Dharna ivEwh dw idn Drn~)
The year and day of wedding is fixed. Meet together my mates and pour oil at the door.Fixing of the date of marriage in Sikhism is not negotiated through astrologers. Marriage day is fixed as mutually convenient and suitable to both the families. In the olden days, there was prejudice about the time, day, month and year of the marriage. Sikhism does not believe in omens, auguries or auspicious days. There is no prejudice in fixing the day, time and month of the ceremony. Normally, the marriages are solemnized on Saturdays or Sundays. Invitations are sent to the near and dear. Preparations are made for special food, clothing and gifts.
sMbiq swhw ilKiEw imil kir pwvhu qylu |
dyhu sjx EsIsVIEw ijau hovY swihb isau mylu | (12)
According to Sikh Reht Maryada, “Consulting of horoscope for determining which day or date is auspicious or otherwise for fixing the day of the marriage is a sacrilege. Any day that the parties find suitable by mutual consultations should be fixed.”-Sikh Reht Maryada, Chapter X1, ArticleXV111 (g)Sahe Chithi (Letter of Invitation)
After fixation of the marriage date, a letter of invitation giving the summary of the arrangements is dispatched by the bride’s father to the bridegroom’s house.
Sahe Chithi is a letter of invitation notifying date of marriage. This letter is normally written by the guardians or parents of the bride to the parents of bride groom. This letter is considered to be customary fixation of the marriage date and invitation for marriage ceremony specifying place and date of marriage.
Certain social ceremonies take place in houses of both the families and there remains a great hustle and bustle. In the past, the connected wedding ceremonies were started about a month before the actual wedding day.Maiyan / Vatna
(Ceremony of bathing and cleaning the body of groom and bridegroom before nuptials):
The ceremony of Maiyan is performed one to three days before actual date of marriage by the girl's and boy's parents and relatives in their respective homes. This has been an exclusive ceremony performed by women.
A yellow fragrant paste made of Haldi (tumeric), Vesan (gram flour) and mustard oil is rubbed on the face, arms, legs and body of bride and bride groom in their respective homes. The ceremony is performed to clean and make the body glow and soft so that boy and girl give the best of their look on the day of marriage.Khare Charhna
After Vatna ceremony, the bride is made to sit on a small stool for ritual bath.
Music, dancing Giddha and singing by ladies is performed at both the houses of bride and bridegroom. The songs sung (epithalamium) by ladies at the groom’s house are called Ghorian(wedding songs in groom’s house) and songs sung in the house of bride are called Suhag (Wedding songs in bride’s house). Light refreshment and gifts of sweetmeats are given to all in attendance. These days, the custom of ladies Sangeet and wedding shower has shortened the long ceremonies held in the past. The wedding has become a one day event which spread over three days in the past.
There is a well known practice that relatives from the maternal side called Nankaa Mail, take out a Gidha parading party at night through the streets of village of the Bride / Bride Groom. A day before the wedding day, the ladies carry lighted earthenwares on their heads and sing traditional Bolian and songs full of jokes. They sing folk songs with the beat of Dholki and knock the doors of the village residents and take the household ladies along to a bigger Ladies Sangeet Party (Gaun) being held at the home of bride / groom. This heightens the wedding festivities. -See Sikh Reht Maryada. Un-necessary ceremonies are not allowed
Ghorian (singing eulogy)
Certain social ceremonies take place before marriage when there is great hustle and bustle in the house of the bride and groom. Invitations are sent to the nears and dears. Preparations are made for special food, clothings and gifts. Music, dancing and singing by ladies is performed at both the houses of bride and bridegroom. The songs sung by ladies at the groom’s house are called Ghorian (wedding songs in groom’s house) and songs sung in the house of bride are called Suhag (Wedding songs in bride’s house). Light refreshment and gifts of sweetmeats are given to all in attendance at the time of ladies Sangeet.
The mare (Ghori) was used in the past as a form of transportation. The bride groom would dress in his wedding attire and ride on a mare to proceed to his in laws house for performance of wedding ceremony. The bride groom usually carried in the past a sword in his hands to be used to protect himself and his bride in case of an attempted abduction. At the time of departure of marriage party, wedding songs are sung when bridegroom rides on a Ghori (Mare). (See Sikh Reht Maryada for rightfull information)Sithanian (Lampoon Song)
This an exclusive event of the ladies. Generally, abusive and obscene songs sung at marriage by the ladies on the bride’s side addressing and ridiculing bridegroom and his relations are called Sithnian. This is an un-Sikh practice.
Note:- Some of the ceremonies are based on dogmatic beliefs. Please see Sikh Reht Maryada, published by SGPC Amritsar, 1945.Ghori Ceremony
Horse was considered a fast mode of travel. Tourists used horses for security purpose and as a fast mode of transportation. Horses were used in hunting, battles and wars by knights, fighters and couriers.
Horse riding became a symbol of honor and dignity in the early times of Mughals when horse riding was allowed to kings, monarchs, commanders, splended high ups and knights only.
However, Guru Hargobind Sahib openly availed human rights and started riding the best possible horses.
According to Sri Gur Partap Suraj,
Guru Gobind Singh rode a mare while heading his marriage party (Janj) to Guru Ka Lahore.Traditionally, mare was used in the past as a mode of transportation for the groom at the time of wedding. As per practice in India, the marriage party people used to carry jewelry and valuables as gift for the bride in Barry. Many a times the marriage parties were ambushed by way -layerers and decoits. Sometimes the bride was abducted also. To plug any mishap, the groom would ride a fast and healthy horse / mare and carry Kirpan for his protection and security. He used to be escorted and accompanied by his brothers, friends and relatives. One of them would ride with him on the same horse as an escort for protection, safeguard and his guidance.
bVvw (GoVI) ErUiF (cVHky) gur E@gR cwil |
-Sri Gurpartap Suraj Granth, Vol-11, p.4541.
Ghori has been substituted these days. Majority of people in western world hire limousines or decorate their cars substituting ceremonial Ghori.
People who accompani marriage part are called Barati and people who come fromrelatives side especially maternal side are called Maili.
Many of the ceremonies are not supported in Sikh Reht Maryada. A Sikh must go by the rites as specified in the Sikh Reht Maryada published by SGPC Amritsar and stay away from unsikh ceremonies.
The marriage party is received with respect and honor by the girl’s family and relatives led by religious singers. At the time of reception of the marriage party, Shabads are sung and prayer is offered. The Granthi would recite the Ardas (prayer) praying Almighty God to shower His blessings.
Ceremony of Milni ( greeting and meeting of families of both sides; Dheta, girl’s father or his kinsmen and Putreta, boy’s father or his kinsmen) is performed where parents, uncles, brothers and other relative of both the families meet and greet each other. Father meets with father and mother meets with mother of bride and groom respectively. They shake hands, garland and embrace each other. Similarly grand fathers, grand mothers, uncles, aunties and maternal uncles and maternal aunties meet with each other.
Exchange of flower garlands, presents and salutations (not essential in Sikhism) takes place at the time of Milni. Some times, the gifts include gold rings, bangles, suits of silk clothes or costly shawls and blankets (This is Manmatt and decried in Sikhism).The Dhetas put some sweets in a plate and offer to the groom's party as Shagan. Thereafter, break fast is served by the girl’s parents to the guests of both the sides in Gurdwara or at the house of the girl’s parents. Then the wedding party moves to appear before Sri Guru Granth Sahib for performance of Anand Karaj ceremony.Discipline and protocol inside Gurdwara or when appearing before Sri Guru Granth Sahib
Alcohol, Narcotics, Intoxicants and Tobacco in any shape or form are not allowed in the Gurdwara precincts or where there is Parkash (exposition) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. As a matter of respect, visitors are required to put off their shoes and cover their heads all the times they are inside the Gurdwara Hall. The devotees keep silence in Sangat except reciting the Bani. Meat or meat products are not allowed to be prepared or served in langar or in Gurdwara.