The Meaning of a Sikh Wedding Ceremony

June 10, 2020

-by Royal Bindi



Every single Sikh wedding is about representing elegance, beauty and charm. From a religious perspective, the wedding is known as Anand Karaj and this held in a Gurdwara with the presence of the holy book ‘ The Guru Granth Sahib Ji” and is held in a very moving yet pure way.

In the same way as every other kind of Indian marriage, a Sikh marriage will also have a share of Pheras. In a Sikh wedding, a Pheras is known as laavan and this is a term that is used in relation to the bringing together of the Atma, which is the Bride and the Parmatma who is the Groom. Every singles Phera has a verse that is associated with it and this explains the many different stages of marital love and the significance of a wedding.

Wedding Clothing

Traditionally, the Grooms would wear a Kurta and this is often white and over this they wear a long overcoat. This is made of silk or Brocade, both of which are premium materials. However, these days, they will wear Sherwanis over the Kurta instead of the Achkan. The Sherwani or the Achkan is highly detailed with threadwork and beadwork. The Groom will also pair either of these up with Churdar Pajama while he will also wear a Mojri which is an embellished slipper. In adherance to the Sikh faith, the grooms is expected to grow a beard and wear a turban.

Brides wear gorgeously decorative embroidered Salwar Kameez. This is traditionally red in colour but now, modern brides are choosing to wear a range of colours although the head has to be covered with a Dupatta. Commonly, brides will wear Lehengas as wedding dresses and these are paired up with traditional jewellery such as earrings and bangles.

Pre-Wedding

There are many pre-wedding rituals that are followed before the ceremony and these are all part of the entire process of getting married. This includes:

  • Roka and Thaka
  • Kurmai
  • Shagan
  • Chunni Chadna
  • Maiya
  • Karahi Chadna
  • Warna
  • Gaana
  • Mehndi
  • Chura and Kalire

The ceremony will then follow the same process and this can be seen below.

The First Laavan

The first verse is sung in Raag Suhi and is “Har pahl di lav par virti karam dridaya Bal Ram jio”. This was composed by Guru Ram Das Ji and it proclaims the beginning of the marriage ceremony. It states the religious significance of the marriage ceremony while it tells the bride and groom to remain on the path of dharma. Therefore, real happiness is all about finding truth and following what the guru says whereby the couple will meditate God’s name and understand their true identity. As a result, the marriage is based on spiritual meditation while the couple must practise this in order to live a life that is happy.

The Second Laavan

The second verse says “Har dooj di lav Satgur purukh milaya Bal Ram jio….”

This explains to the couple that they should place to one side any ego as well as their materialistic things as they go in search of the real guru. The guru has a constant presence and is all around us. It is inside us and it occupies every space that we see around us. He is the master of the universe and is also the supreme soul and so, it is important that we sing his praise and songs to appease him. Prophet Nanak proclaims that the music of the spheres resounds with the second phera.

The Third Laavan

The third verse says “Har teej di lav man chao bhiya bairagiya Bal Ram jio…”

This verse represents the true love for God. The bride accepts that she has met the divine saint who turned her love into the absolute being. She says that she has then found the almighty and sings his praise and speaks in a slow language about the infinite, the name of the true god. The spiritual name of the divine har har har goes around in her head and make her complete. In this verse, Guru Nanak Ji explains that the heart of the couple must be full of the love of the Lord.

The Fourth Laavan

The verse says “Har chouth di lav man sahaj bhiya Harpaiya Bal Ram jio….”

This verse goes on to explain how the couple have found peace and the right balance in their mind because they have reached god in a simple way. Therefore, the god joins the heart of the bride and so, it blossoms and grows with his name. At this point, Guru Nanak Ji proclaims that at last, the divine is attained.

Finally, “Vivah hoa mere Babulla…”  which is a shabad is sung in Raag Sri Mahall and it indicates that the ceremony has been completed, which means that the bride now has a connection with the God and the groom and is now ready to leave her parents to be with the in-laws. At this point, there are many tears shed as everyone says goodbye to the bride. With the Anand Karaj complete, it is then followed by the reception and this is where things become slightly more relaxed.

With the Sikh Wedding Ceremony over and done with, the focus then turns to the reception. This is where guests and the couple have the chance to celebrate in style.

The Reception

The wedding reception is hosted by the parents of the groom and they might choose to invite a larger group of friends as well as colleagues that were not invited to the Anand Karaj. This enables us to capture even more special moments with your guests throughout the reception. This is the time where your guests get the chance to indulge in food, drinks and dancing too.

It is common for the bride to change her outfit as she commonly changes into the clothes that are gifted to her by her in-laws and this is a tradition. However, we have photographed weddings whereby the bride will choose to wear her own outfit for the reception and this is commonly lehengas or dresses.

The couple will then take a seat in a position of importance and they are not expected to move around too much to meet all of their guests as the parents take care of being hosts.  This is a time for the bride and groom to enjoy the moment together and soak it all in but again, it provides us with the opportunity to capture some great shots while bringing your day to life.

Wedding Planning  – How Far in Advance are Sikh Wedding Planned?

When it comes to planning a Sikh wedding, you are going to need to think about every aspect of the day. This begins with the venues and of course, with the ceremony taking place in a Gurdwara, you are going to need to think about the venue for the reception too.

Therefore, the reception venue will need to be big enough for your party and it will need to be booked in advance to ensure that you can have what you want. You’ll also need to think about the finer details of the reception too. Therefore, think about the layout, the guests, the decor, the entertainment and the food. All of this can seem overwhelming but you should do all you can to take it in your stride and enjoy it.

A Sikh wedding is a big, lavish affair and is one that you are going to want to get right. Therefore, for the weeks and months leading up to it, you’re going to need to speak to organisers and suppliers to ensure that everything falls into place and on time. All of this planning takes time but of course, it all helps you to create the most amazing moments too.

When it comes to your photographer, you are going to need to liaise with them about the venue so they can gain an understanding of it and plan ahead. This will enable them to capture the right shots in the right place.  

The logistics of arranging a wedding reception are vast and that means that you need to break everything down into transport, food, entertainment, layouts, decor, what you will wear and what you want from your photographer.

Who Gets Invited to the Reception?

Sikh weddings are massive affairs and in some cases, they can have as much as 1,000 guests attending! Therefore, all friends and family should expect an invite. For those guests who are invited, they should be aware that it is a privilege to be involved in the special day. The event is one that is lavish and exciting and so, it’s natural to want to spend it with the ones you love.

This again is a great opportunity for us to capture the most amazing images as your guests immerse themselves in the moment. This is a special day, a special moment and one that we will get right for you.

The food is also a large aspect of the reception and guests attending love nothing more than the best food and desserts.

What Can You Expect at the Reception? 

It’s grand, it’s exciting and it is one where people are brought together to enjoy the moment. Hosted by the family of the Groom, they invite friends and family to enjoy the moment with great food and celebrations, with plenty of dancing.

Doli

The Doli is a wooden palanquin that has been used to traditionally carry women around as they travel. It is used to celebrate the final departure of the bride as she leaves her paternal home. The bride will then toss grains of rice over her shoulder and into the hands of her mother, wishing them eternal prosperity. They all say their final goodbyes before she goes off to her new home.

Photographing Sikh Weddings

As experts in photographing Sikh weddings, we have the ability to capture every single aspect of the day Whether it is the traditional rituals, the colourful outfits or the guests as they celebrate. We take a unique approach to providing our service, allowing us to capture the day in all its glory.

To find out more about our service and how we can take care of your Sikh wedding videography & photography needs on your big day, why not get in touch? We would love to discuss your options and requirements with you, so give us a call on 0208 090 2180.

Let us plan your perfect wedding photography and videography package.