Indian weddings are celebrated with great zest and enthusiasm. One such type of big fat Indian weddings is that of the Sikh community. For Sikhs, wedding is not just a legal alliance of two people, it is a holy and harmonious union of two souls and hence no stone is left unturned to make it larger than life. Their weddings are high on energy and vigour. The Sikh wedding customs and rituals are more or less similar to Hindu wedding customs. Although one major difference lies that while Hindus use Vedic texts, the Sikhs use their holy book, Adi Grantha (also called Guru Granth Sahib).
Like most of the Asian weddings, a formal commitment begins before the marriage. This marks the beginning of the whole celebration. Shagun or Kurmai is generally performed a week prior to the Sikh wedding at groom’s home or in Gurdwara. Now-a-days, these ceremonies are also held at banquet halls or hotels. An engagement ceremony performed in the Gurdwara includes Langar (traditional meal), Kirtan (chants from Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and Ardas (Sikh prayer) in a reverse order, and it is followed by an exchange of gifts between the bride and the groom’s families and mutual vows of wedding. The groom and the bride then exchange the rings.
In case it is performed at the Groom’s house, the bride’s family visits his house with gifts such as sweets, dry fruits, jewellery and clothes. The bride's father or guardian presents the boy with a Kada (Gents Bangle), a gold ring, and gold mohre (coins). Later on, these are strung into a thread of black colour and given to the bride. The bride wears it around her neck and it is similar to the mangalsutra worn by the Hindu brides. The only difference is that Sikh brides wear it only on the special occasions, unlike the Hindu brides who wear it on a daily basis.
After the sagaai ceremony, it is time for the groom’s family to visit the bride’s house. For the Chunni ceremony, usually the close relatives and friends of the bride and the groom are invited. The groom’s mother and aunts drape the bride with a traditional phulkari chunni. Phulkari is the traditional embroidery of Punjab. This is followed by the ritual of the groom’s mother applying henna (mehndi) on the bride’s hands to announce her engaged. The bride is also gifted clothes and jewellery by the groom’s family. Everyone then congratulates the couple by feeding those sweets. The ladies also sing and dance to the beats of dhol.
A Maiyan ceremony is also held one day prior to the wedding day. At this ceremony the groom and the bride wear simple and plain clothes to look brighter on the wedding day.
Vatna ceremony is held just a few days prior to the wedding. In this ceremony, ubatan (a paste made of turmeric, rosewater and sandalwood) is applied on the bride’s body. She is then cleaned under the shade of the bagh (a piece of cloth with phulkari embroidery). A similar ceremony is held at the groom’s house. This is done to bring glow to the couple’s face.