The Sikh Wedding…Anand Karaj…should we allow change?

There is recently been a lot of renew chatter about the Sikh Wedding or Anand Karaj.  This has become a very hot topic in the last few years.  There are protests outside gurdwaras in the UK when a Sikh and Non-Sikh are getting married.  There have even been gurdwaras that will just turn a couple away if they don’t believe the marriage is correct.

As we Sikhs get more integrated to our new Western homes, our ideas or thoughts on how the ceremony should take place changes something sacred and holy.  Weddings are a very big deal, we all know that, making that commitment to another person for the rest of your life.  The joining of not only two people, but of two families.  Living in the west and seeing Christian wedding makes many think.  Most non traditional Christain weddings aren’t very structured.  Bridgesmaids and Groomsmen dancing while walking to there places near the alter.  Dance and HIp Hop music playing in the backround.  Nothing at all like a Sikh Wedding ceremony.

Sikh weddings have a set process and a set procedure.  We have things that are done in a particular fashion with tradition and meaning.  Most Sikh Weddings go through the following process.  This is what I remember seeing, so please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

https://i1.wp.com/entouraaj.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Sikh-wedding.jpg

The families and friends of both the bride and groom gather in the Gurdwara, for the Anand Karaj the Sikh marriage ceremony. Wedding parties and guests assemble together in the presence of the Guru Granth. Hymns are sung as men and boys sit to one side of a central isle, and the woman and girls to the other. Every one sits on the floor reverently with legs crossed and folded.

The bride and groom bow before the Guru Granth, and then sit side by side at the front of the hall. The couple and their parents stand up to signify that they have given their consent for the wedding to take place. Every one else remains seated while a Granthi offers Ardas, a prayer for the success of the marriage.

The Raagis sit on a low stage and sing the hymn, “Keeta Loree-ai Kaam“, to seek God’s blessing and to convey a message that a successful marital union is achieved through grace.

A Granthi counsels the couple with the verse “Dhan Pir Eh Na Akhee-an“. They are advised that marriage is not merely a social and civil contract, but a spiritual process uniting two souls so that they become one inseparable entity. The couple is reminded that the spiritual nature of family harmony is given emphasis by the example of the Sikh gurus, who themselves entered matrimony and had children.

  • The husband is to love and respect his wife, encourage her with kind consideration, recognize her individuality, regard her as his equal, offering guidance and support.
  • The wife is to show her love and respect with loyalty, support her husband’s objectives willingly, harmonize with him, and share in happiness and sorrow, prosperity or adversity.
  • The couple are to ally themselves with each other in an endeavor to achieve a harmonious union, intellectually, emotionally, physically, materially and spiritually.

The Bride and groom, affirm the acceptance of their marital obligations, and bow together before the Guru Granth. The bride sits to the left of the groom directly in front of the Guru Granth.

A member of the grooms family drapes a long scarf, shawl, or length of turban cloth, called a palla around the groom’s shoulders, and places the right end in his hands.

The bride’s father (or one acting in his stead) takes the left end of the palla and arranges it over the bride’s shoulder and gives her the left end to hold.

The ragis sing the hymn:

“Pallai Taiddai Lagee” symbolizing joining the couple by the palla to each other and God.

Lavan, the Four Wedding Rounds

The four wedding hymns of Lavan represent four stages of love. The hymns describe the development of marital love between husband and wife, while simultaneously signifying the love and longing of the human soul for God.

The bride and groom walk around the Guru Granth, as the ragis sing the words of the Lavan. The groom walks to the left clockwise. Holding his end of the palaa, he walks around the Guru Granth. The bride follows him holding on to her end of the palaa. The couple makes their first marital adjustment by keeping in step with each other. They bow together before the Guru Granth concluding the 1st wedding round and resume sitting. The 2nd, 3rd & final, 4th round, are conducted in the same manner.

The entire congregation sings “Anand Sahib”, the “Song of Bliss”. The hymn emphasizes the fusing of two souls into one as they merge with the divine.

The ragis sing two hymns to complete the ceremony:

  • “Veeahu Hoa Mere Babula” – celebrates the marriage of the couple and their union with God.
  • “Pooree Asa Jee Mansaa Mere Raam” – describes the happiness at having found the perfect partner.

Every one stands for the final prayer. After it has been said, everyone bows, and resumes sitting.

A Granthi reads a random verse called a hukam which concludes the ceremony. Lastly, a ragi serves everyone a handful of prashad, a sacred sweet blessed during the prayer.

The married couple and their families, express thanks to all present for taking part in the celebration. The wedding party guests congratulate the married couple usually in Langar Hall or outide the main Diwan Hall.

So how much as Sikhs should be be willing to Bend on these processes or procedures?  Should we allow the bride and groom to walk side by side during Laavan?  Is it ok for a Sikh and Non Sikh to get married in this manner?    For a religion that expresses openness, love, caring, and equality.  We are pushing people away saying they can’t get married in a Gurdwara.  We are a religion that does not care about color, sex, caste, or even religion. Everyone is equal i our eyes.  So what’s right and what’s wrong?  Should we be willing to bend on tradition and if so how much?

Indo-Pak War – excerpt by General M Khan of Pakistan.

On 3rd December 1971, we(Pakistan Army) fiercely and vigorously attacked the Indian army with our infantry brigade near Hussainiwala border. This brigade included Pakistan army’s fighter Punjabi regiment together with the Baloch regiment. Within minutes we pushed the Indian army quite far back. Their defence posts fell under our control. The Indian army was retreating back very fast and the Pakistani army was going forward with a great speed. Our army reached near the Kausre-Hind post. There was a small segment of the Indian army appointed to defend that post and their soldiers belonged to the Sikh Regiment. A few number of the Sikh Regiment stopped our way forward like an iron wall. They loudly greeted us with the ovation of ‘Bole-so-Nihal’ and attacked us like blood thirsty hungry lions and hawks. All these soldiers were Sikhs. There was even a dreadful hand-to-hand battle. The sky

 filled with roars of ‘Yaa Ali’ and ‘Sat-Siri-Akal’. Even in this hand-to-hand fighting the Sikhs fought so bravely that all our desires, aspirations and dreams were shattered.
 
…..In this war Lt. Col Gulab Hussain of Baloch Regiment got killed. With him Major Mohammed Zaeef and Captain Arif Alim also died. It was difficult to count the number of soldiers who got killed. We were astonished to see the courage of those handful of Sikh soldiers. When we seized the possession of the three-storey defence post of concrete, the Sikh soldiers went onto the roof and kept on persistently opposing us. The whole night they kept on showering fires on us and continued shouting the loud ovation of ‘Sat-Siri-Akal’. These Sikh soldiers kept on the encounter till the next day. Next day the Pakistani tanks surrounded this post and bombed it with guns. Those handful of Sikhs got martyred in this encounter while resisting us, but other Sikh soldiers then destroyed our tanks with the help of their artillery. Fighting with great bravery they kept on marching forward and thus our army lost its foothold.
 
….Alas, a handful of Sikhs converted our great victory into a big defeat and shattered our confidence and courage. ….The same thing happened with us in Dhaka (Bangladesh). In the battle of Jaissur, the Singhs opposed the Pakistani army so fiercely that our backbone and our foothold was lost. This became the main and important reason of our defeat and the Sikhs’ fancy for martyrdom and mockery with death for the sake of safety and honour of the country, became the sole cause of their victory.
 
 
“…the main reason of our defeat was Sikhs fighting facing us. We were helpless to do anything in front of them. Sikhs are very brave and they have a great craving for martyrdom. They fight so fiercely that they are capable of defeating an army many times bigger than theirs.

The captured Sikh…

Once, the Turks (Muslims) caught a Sikh and took him away with them. They circumcised (‘sunnat’) him, made him read ‘Kalma’ (a Muslim prayer). They did what their ‘sharaah’ (Muslim religious rules) says. They removed his hair, but, his mind was not moved. He started to recite ‘Guru Guru Guru’.

They made him eat halal food and then freed him. At the time of ‘Rahraas’ (the Sikh evening-prayer), the Sikh bowed his head in the holy presence of Guru Ji and said, “O King! I am a Sikh. I fell unconscious in battle. The Turks (Muslims) took me away with them and did what their ‘Sharaah’ say. Now, what should I do? Protect my ‘Dharma’ of ‘Sikhism’. Otherwise, I will burn myself on a pyre”.

“How did they do their ‘Sharaah?”, Guru Ji asked.

The Sikh said, “they did my ‘sunnat’ (circumcised), compelled me to eat the food and cut my hair”.

Guru Ji said, “Did you enjoy the company of Muslim woman?”

Sikh said, “No, I was saved by you”.

Guru Ji said, “Distribute the ‘Karhaah Prashaad’ to the Sikhs. You are a pure Sikh. Guru has saved you”.

The Hazoori Sikhs asked, “O King! How can one be a Muslim?”

Guru Ji said, “Enemies do the ‘Sharaah’ by force. No one becomes a Muslim by doing so. O Sikhs! When one commits adultery, (his/her) mind mixes up, only then one becomes a Muslim. The mind is the reason. Forcefully, the belief cannot be destroyed. My Sikh, who enjoys the sexual relations with a Muslim woman, is not my Sikh. If someone repents after having sexual relations with other’s woman, he can be forgiven; but he, who has sexual relation with a Muslim woman, will never be forgiven”.

The Sikhs said, “The Muslims forcibly copulate with Hindu women. If Sikhs get revenge, is this not good?”

Guru Ji said, “Sikh-brothers! We have to take this Panth (Sikhism) to the high position, not to a lower position. We have not to imitate the wicked.”

(It was common practice in those days for the invaders to molest Hindu and Sikh women, but Guru Sahib Ji forbid any retaliation in this area, so much so that Guru Sahib Ji ordered his Sikhs never to even touch a Muslim woman, in this way their honour was insured)

Five basic facts about Sikhism every Non-Sikh should know

Below are five basic facts about Sikhism:

1. Belief: Sikhism is a monotheistic religion, and the basic Sikh belief is represented in the phrase Ik Onkar meaning “One God.”

2. History: Sikhism was founded in the Punjab region in India in the 15th century by Guru Nanak Dev. Sikhism broke from Hinduism due, in part, to its rejection of the caste system.

3. Scripture: The primary source of Scripture for Sikhs is the Guru Granth Sahib, regarded as the living Guru, after the final Guru in human form, Guru Gobind Singh, passed away.

4. Place of worship: A Sikh place of worship is known as the gurdwara. The word gurdwara means “doorway to God.” Men and women normally sit apart in the gurdwara. Traditionally there is no official clergy within the Sikh tradition. Over time however, priests have become more commonplace. Many gurdwaras employ priests to conduct services, while many others are run entirely by members of the local congregation.

5. The Five Ks: The Five Ks are the articles of faith that Sikhs wear as ordered by the 10th Guru, Guru Gobind Singh. Most Sikhs wear one or more of the articles but only Sikhs who have taken amrit, a ritual analogous to baptism, wear all. They include:

  • Kesh, or unshorn long hair, which is protected by a dastaar, or turban. The dastaar is worn by men and some women to cover their long hair. But most women keep their hair long and uncovered, except for when entering a gurdwara.
  • A kangha is a small wooden comb meant to keep the hair combed twice a day.
  • A kara is an iron bangle to be worn on the hand used most.
  • A kachera is a specific undergarment for men and women.
  • A kirpan is a short dagger.

Must Know Chronology of Events at Sri Harmandir Sahib Ji

1573 AD The construction work of the holy water tank started under the supervision of Guru RamDas Ji.

1577 AD Guru Ram Das Ji laid the foundation of Amritsar (earlier known as Ram Das Pur)

1588 AD The foundation of Sri Harimandir Sahib was laid by a Muslim saint Mian Mir. ( Not Confirmed, Popularly Believed )

1604 AD The central shrine completed.

1606 AD The Sikh Guru Hargobind ji adopted two swords, one for religious affairs and another for worldly affairs. Guru Hargobind sahib ji also laid the foundation of Akal Takht.

1621 AD Guru Teg Bahadur ji was born in Amritsar.

1628 AD The first ever Sikh-Mughal armed conflict, and the Sikhs emerged victorious under the command of Guru Hargobind sahib ji.

1634 AD Guru Hargobind sahib ji left for Kiratpur with his devotees to avert possible attack on visiting Sikh devotees.

1665 AD Guru Teg Bhadur visited the Sri Harmandir Sahib after becoming the ninth Sikh Guru but he was denied entry by the care takers.

1721 AD Bhai Mani Singh appointed the head priest and administrator of the Sri Harmandir Sahib. After a century long period, the Sri Harmandir Sahib’s control was again under the Sikhs.

1725 AD Dispute between the two Sikh sects over the Sri Harmandir Sahib’s control. Bhai Mani singh resolved it in a fair manner.

1738 AD The head priest Bhai Mani Singh hacked into pieces for not paying demanded revenue to the Mughal authorities

1739 AD The Mughals negotiated peace and granted independent territory [jagir] to the Sikhs.

1739 AD Persian king Nadir Shah attacked the Golden Temple

1740 AD The Sikhs avenged the act of sacrilege by a Mughal administrator named Massa Ranghard. Two Sikh warriors Sukha singh and Mehtab singh chopped his head in the sanctum where he was watching dance under under effect of alcohol with his friends and soldiers.

1745 AD A wave of suppression started to curb the Sikhs.

1757 AD Afghan King Ahmed Shah Abdali attacked Sri Harmandir Sahib and Baba Deep Singh martyred.

1762 AD After the greater holocaust of Feb 5, 1762 Afghan king Abdali Razed Sri Harmandir Sahib to the ground and filled its holy tank with debris, rubbish and animal carcasses.

1764 AD Once again Abdali came to Amritsar and ruined what ever he came across. Baba Gubaksh Singh and his thirty comrades were ruthlessly murdered near the Akal Takhat.

1767 AD Udasi saints Nirvan Pritam Das and Mahant Santokh Das brought 35 miles long water canal to fill the holy water tank with the water of river Ravi.

1773 AD Sikh Misal chiefs raised the building of Gurdwara baba Atal near Sri Harmandir Sahib.

1776 AD Reconstruction of the damaged holy water tank, entrance gate and bridge.

1802 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh occupied the territory of Amritsar.

1808 AD Amritsar’s famous Gobindghar fort was raised to shift Lahore’s treasure to Amritsar.

1813 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh obtained famous diamond “Ko-he-noor”, now studded in the English crown, and a great army march past in the streets of Amritsar.

1822 AD Amritsar’s fortification wall with twelve gates completed.

1831 AD Gold work of Sri Harmandir Sahib Reached its final stages.

1839 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh came to Sri Harmandir Sahib in March 1839, it proved his last visit.

1849 AD The Sikhs lost their rule over the unified territory of Punjab.

1857 AD Amritsar observed a little effect of the mutiny against the British.

1871 AD Kuka [Namdhari] movement rocked Amritsar, Several Muslim butchers were assassinated. British administrators hanged several Kuka disciples to death in Amritsar near Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s summer palace.

1873 AD Singh Sabha Movement gained roots.

1881 AD The British government introduced their management agents or managers [Sarbarah] to exercise their full control over the Sri Harmandir Sahib.

1893 AD Khalsa College, Amritsar opened.

1902 AD Pro British chief Khala Diwan Formed.

1919 AD Jallian Wala Bagh massacre took life of several thousands innocent Sikhs and others on the Baisakhi day in Amritsar.

1921 AD The Sikhs took control of several Sikh shrines including the Sri Harmandir Sahib. SGPC like mother body emerged that took its final shape after some years.

1923 AD The first Kar Sewa or cleansing of the holy water tank took place.

1925 AD Sikh Gurdwara Act passed.

1947 AD Amritsar became a border city after India’s partition.

1949 AD Sikh Reference library formed.

1958 AD Central Sikh museum formed.

1973 AD The second Kar Sewa of the holy water tank.

1977 AD The city of Amritsar observed its 400th birthday.

1978 AD Sikh – Nirankari conflict took life of thirteen innocent Sikh demonstrators and it changed the Punjab forever.

1984 AD Indian Army invaded Sri Harmandir Sahib under operation “Blue Star”, that claimed life of several innocent thousands of lives and resulted into the destruction of the Golden Temple complex.

1988 AD Another Para military action took place in the Golden Temple complex.

1988 AD Several thousand shops and houses generally of the Sikhs were removed to make a corridor around the Sri Harmandir Sahib. It added long awaited beauty and space to the Golden Temple.

1997 AD English Queen Elizabeth II and her husband paid a visit to the Golden Temple.

2004 AD Sri Harmandir Sahib observed the first Kar Sewa of the 21st century for the purpose of installing water treatment plants. This year also observed the largest ever recorded strength of devotees visiting the Sri Harmandir Sahibat once, on the eve of Quadricentennial Installation celebrations of the Sikh Scripture in September 2004. 

Sikhism and Guru Nanak

On Thursday, Sikh Americans and Canadians and millions in India and around the world will celebrate “Gurpurab” the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev (b. 1469), founder of the Sikh religion and one of the world’s great symbols of pluralism and tolerance.

Yet few outside India know the significance of this day.

The 5,000-year-old Indian civilization, born on the banks of the Indus and nurtured for many millennia by the River Ganges, still enchants the rest of the world.

The land of Krishna and the Vedas is the natural home to Hinduism, but under its umbrella it has nurtured the world’s major religions and provided refuge to those fleeing persecution.

Be they Zoroastrians from Persia, Thomas the Apostle, or the descendants of Prophet Muhammed escaping Arab Umayyad armies, India has accepted all without conditions and stands as a power that has never invaded its neighbours throughout its checkered history.

Among the great philosophers and thinkers that India gifted to the world are two who tower above the rest — Buddha and Guru Nanak Dev, the founders of Buddhism and Sikhism respectively.

While Buddha is well known in the West as a result of his creed and followers, Guru Nanak, whose birthday we celebrate on Thursday, is yet to be discovered by many.

Today, the place where Guru Nanak was born in 1469 is a city that was ethnically cleansed of its entire Sikh population during the bloodbath of 1947.

Nankana Sahib, a place where the Guru spent his childhood with Muslim and Hindu friends, is today a Bethlehem without Christians; a Medina without Muslims.

For a few days the town will bustle with Sikh pilgrims from Canada, India and all over the world, but soon they will depart and then, nary a turban will be seen until the Sikhs return next year.

It’s sad because Sikhism was historically intertwined with Islam and Muslims.

The Guru’s closest companion was a Muslim, Bhai Mardana.

It is said when Mardana was dying, the Guru asked him, “how would you like to die? As a Muslim?” To which the ailing Muslim replied, “As a human being”.

After the bloodbath of 1947, Muslim Punjabis lost their Sikh neighbours and family friends of generations.

Most of all, they lost their language that today languishes as a second-class tongue in its own home.

We Muslims kept Nankana Sahib, but lost the Guru.

The essence of Sikhism, where God — termed Vahiguru — is shapeless, timeless, and sightless, can be summed up by these words of Guru Nanak: “Realization of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living.”

“We are all brothers,” he once said. “So there is no Hindu and no Muslim,” leaving these profound words of wisdom for his Muslim friends:

“Make mercy your Mosque,

Faith your Prayer Mat,

what is just and lawful your Qur’an,

Modesty your Circumcision,

and civility your Ramadan Fast.

So shall you be a Muslim.

Make right conduct your Ka’aba,

Truth your Pir (saint), and

good deeds your Kalma (oath of a Muslim) and prayers”.​

GNFA DIWANS THIS WEEK.

Sadh Sangat Ji,
Please join us at GNFA Gurdwara today for our Kirtan diwan held every Wednesday. Kirtan schedule for today and this week is listed below:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Evening Diwan
7:30 PM Rehraas Sahib
8:00 PM Kirtan Bhai Jagmohan Singh Ji
8:30 PM Kirtan Bhai Bakshish Singh Ji
9:00 PM Samapti & Langar

Thursday, October 9, 2014
Morning/Afternoon Diwan
10:30 AM Sukhmani Sahib Paath By Istree Satsang
11.45 AM Kirtan By Istree Satsang
12:30 PM Samapti & Langar

Friday, October 10, 2014
** Special Kirtan Diwan: GNFA Celebrates Sri Guru Ram Das Ji Prakash Purab**
Evening Diwan
7:30 PM Rehraas Sahib
8:00 PM Kirtan Bhai Jagmohan Singh Ji
8:30 PM Kirtan Bhai Bakshish Singh Ji
9:00 PM Katha Bhai Hardev Singh Ji Gurdwara Bangla Sahib Wale
9:30 PM Samapti & Langar

Sunday, October 12, 2014
Morning & Afternoon Diwan
6-7:30 AM Sukhmani Sahib
8 -10 AM Asa Ki Vaar Kirtan
By Bhai Jagmohan Singh Ji
11:00 AM Kirtan By GNFA Youth
12:00 PM Kirtan Bhai Jagmohan Singh Ji
12:30 PM Kirtan Bhai Bakshish Singh Ji
1:15 PM Samapti & Langar