The Joys and Pitfalls of a Traditional Punjabi Wedding
I want you to think of an Indian. What did your mind picture? Was it a brown skinned individual maybe with a thick foreign accent and wearing a traditional turban? Maybe someone that closely resembles Apu the convenient store owner from the Simpsons? However, Indian culture is so much more than those stereotypes, it is very rich full of love, laughter and family. Sikhism is a religion founded in Punjab a northern state of India, it is a religion enriched with meaningful customs and rituals. A ritual is defined as a ceremony with significance performed in a specific order. One of the biggest and most symbolic rituals in Sikhism is the wedding ceremony traditionally known as the Anand Karaj, which roughly translates to blissful union. Much like the western meaning of marriage it is the ritually recognised unity between two people. Of course, there are some stark contrasts between a western wedding and an Anand Karaj. I will be looking first at what exactly a Sikh wedding is and then how gender, rite of passage and identity along with wealth are symbolized throughout the Anand Karaj.
It starts with finding the right partner, Sikh weddings are either arranged or assisted. Meaning that families will assist in finding a suitable partner for their son/daughter, they will not be forced into marrying someone they don’t like. Or a family will find a partner for their daughter usually and she will most likely have no choice but to marry the chosen partner. Finding a good partner takes into account things such as social status, education and family wealth. This is usually also the first-time individuals of the opposite sex will have really encountered each other more than being schoolmates as courtship is frowned upon in the Sikh community. The bride’s family must also pay a dowry to the groom’s side for the bride as well in most traditional weddings the bride’s side will pay for most of this wedding. There is also many other rituals and ceremonies preformed before and after the wedding ceremony that actually span out for almost seven days, but those alone could be a whole other paper. Therefore, for this paper we will just be talking about the actual marriage ceremony. The wedding ceremony will take place at the Gurdwara, a sacred Sikh temple (Figure One). Traditional attire for the bride is a red lengha which is like a crop top and a high-waisted skirt with a dupatta a sheer scarf to cover the face and head as well as lots of gold jewellery and red bangles that go from the wrist up to the elbow (Figure Two). Grooms will carry a long sword called a kirpan, wearing a turban on the head and will wear a sherwani which is a long jacket and tight fitted pants. Also, the groom wears a sehra which is a face covering tied around the turban (Figure Two).
The wedding day starts with the groom making his grand entrance on a horse to the Gurdwara. He then goes inside and sits in front of the Guru Granth Sahib ...