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Punjabi Wedding Ceremony is basically a very lively function and is celebrated with lots of zest and fan fare. The wedding ceremony consists of many rituals, which have a distinct significance and charm. Punjab is truly one of the most colorful states of India. People out here; lead their lives with fun and frolic. They live every moment of their lives with a smile on their face. It is in this vibrant place that Punjabi wedding ceremony is celebrated like a big carnival, exhibiting splendid grandeur.

Since ages, Punjabis have been indulging in elaborate marriage customs and rituals. There are plenty of joy making traditional .There are special folk dance performances including Bhangras and Giddas. Punjabi weddings are full of excitement and thrill. Each ceremony is like an excuse for merriment.

 

The engagement ceremony

Most Sikh weddings are great fun occasions .The engagement ceremony  is usually conducted in the Gurdwara or at the home of the Groom-to-be. It involves Ardas, Kirtan , "Sagaan" (Exchange of gifts) and Langar. In the "Sagaan" ceremony, the groom is presented him with a kara, kirpan, Indian sweets, fresh fruits, dried fruits and nuts. The bride-to-be's family in turn are presented with garments and sweets for the Bride-to-be.

 

The wedding day ceremony

The Sikh wedding ceremony is known as "Anand Karaj" which means 'Blissful Union". The Sikh marriage is a very colourful and unique ceremony in which two individuals are joined in a partnership of two equals.

It is not merely a physical and legal contract but a sacrament - a holy union between two souls. The spiritual goal of any Sikh is to merge his or her soul (atma) with God (Parmatma) and in marriage, the couple vow to help each other towards this goal.

The early part of the day is devoted to the religious ceremony which almost always takes place in a Sikh Gurdwara (Sikh temple).

The bride is dressed in traditional shalwar and kameez or langa (a blouse and loose trousers or long skirt). A heavy gold-embroidered shawl (chunni or dupatta) covers her head. The groom is generally dressed in traditional shirt and trousers  in summers and mostly  suit in winters and he wears a red or dark pink turban and carries a coloured scarf (pulla).

 

The Anand Karaj ceremony is joyous and festive event in which families and friends from both sides are heavily involved. The atmosphere is informal and lively. Most Sikh wedding take place in the morning but there are no restrictions as to what time the ceremony should start or end. The wedding event however will last for the whole day and may spill into the next day. A wedding day will be a long and eventful affair.

 

The Sikh ceremony can be performed in any Gurdwara or venue where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is in place. The ceremony is usually performed in the morning. If the ceremony is performed in the Gurdwara, it commences with Milni, this is where the two families greet each other, exchanging well wishes and garlands. Kirtan, which is a simple ceremony and hymns from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, is performed as people enter the Gurdwara. The men and women sit on separate sides from each other. They stand for the Ardas, which is the common Sikh prayer.

The groom is seated first. Shortly after, the bride is led to her seat by her mother and best friend, and is seated on the groom's left. The couple sit facing the one who officiates the marriage, known as the pathi.

The singing of the Asa di Var, the Gurus' morning hymn, opens the ceremony. Other hymns may also be sung at this time. The couple and their parents are asked to stand while the Pathi prays before being seated.

The Pathi continues to go on to make a speech explaining the significance of Sikh marriage. The Sikh Gurus have a very high regard for the state of marriage.

The Pathi then asks the bride and groom to signify their approval to their marriage and if they agree to accept their duties. They bow before Sri Guru Granth Sahib to acknowledge their consent. The bride's father places a garland of flowers on the holy book, and on the bride and groom. He also places one end of the scarf in the groom's hand, over the groom's shoulder and into the bride's hand, to signify that she is now leaving his care to join her husbands.

 

The officiate goes on to read the Lavan hymn of Guru Ram Das, which is composed of four verses. The groom, followed by the bride, walk around Sri Guru Granth Sahib in a clockwise direction at the completion of each of the four verses, which symbolise the four stages of love. After each time around, the bride and groom kneel and bow towards Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Once they have walked around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib four times, they are a married couple.

 

The religious ceremony is formally concluded by the entire congregation standing for the final Ardas of the marriage. After this the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is opened to any page at random and the hymn is read out as the days order from the Guru for the occasion. Karah Prashad, which is a ceremonial sacramental pudding, is then distributed to everyone.

 

Both sets of parents are first to congratulate the married couple. Friends and family follow to present the couple with cash offerings in their lap. Everyone then leaves for the dining hall to sit on the floor in langer, the community kitchen, and enjoy a traditional langer meal.

 

 

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