Sikhism is a religious order that originated in Punjab in the 15th century. The wedding rituals of the Sikhs are also different from that of the other religions. Though various regions have a slightly different version of the pre-wedding rituals, the main ceremony at the Gurudwara will be the same.
Traditionally a Sikh marriage will be arranged by the elder members of the family, but the younger generation is free to choose their life partner.
So once a marriage alliance is formed the first pre-wedding ceremony called 'Roka' is held at the bride's home. The word Roka means to stop. Well, as the name indicates the ceremony is held to stop searching for a partner as the bride and the groom has found the perfect match. Only the immediate family members of both the families attend this function.
After Roka comes 'Taka'. At this ceremony, the dates for engagement and wedding are set. It is again held at the bride's home.
The engagement ceremony called 'mangni' is held at the groom's house or at a Gurudwara. It will be monitored by a Sikh priest called granthi. It is a private ceremony attended only by the immediate family. The bride's family would bring gifts and paste for the tikka put on the groom's forehead. They also bring a silver tray which would have the tikka paste, few grains of rice, saffron, dried dates and a coconut.
The bride's father would apply the tikka on the groom's forehead and gives him some money along with blessings. Next, they will exchange rings and the bride's family will also offer a steel bangle called 'kara' to the groom.
A Chunni ceremony will also be held along with this. This is performed by the groom's mother. She would cover the bride's head with a chunni (shawl). The girl would also receive jewellery and clothes from the groom's family. Later the guests will enjoy food and drinks.
A ceremony called 'Maiya' is performed 5 days prior to the wedding. This pre-wedding ritual is held at the respective homes of the bride and the groom. It is a cleansing ceremony. During this ceremony, a red scarf is held above the bride and groom's head and oil will be brushed on their hands and turmeric is applied on their body. Traditional songs are also sung during this purification ceremony.
After that, another ceremony called 'Karahi Charna' is held at the bride and groom's respective homes. Sweet dishes are cooked in a large vessel called karahi and the guests, who come to bless the bride and the groom will receive these sweets.
Like most of the Indian weddings, a mehndi and sangeet ceremonies are held a couple of days before the wedding. Hands and feet of both the bride and groom are adorned with mehndi. It is a grand occasion which is accompanied by music, dance and merry making.
The darkness of the mehndi signifies the deep love between the couple.
Choora ceremony held a day before the wedding is held only at the bride's place. During the ceremony, the bride's uncle will give her choora. Well, choora is the 21 red and cream bangles worn by a bride. It is first bathed in yoghurt and then in rosewater. The bride will wear these bangles and her uncle would then cover it with a shawl. It is done to represent her going away from her home.
On the wedding day, the Sehra bandi ceremony is held at the groom's place. Sehra is an embroidered veil that is fixed on the groom's turban by his father. Next come soorma and kalgi. The female members of the groom's family will apply khol on his eyes and his turban is accessorized with jewellery.
At the girl's place kalire, a silver or gold embellished umbrella-shaped ornament is tied to her bangles. Later the elders of the family will bless her.
The groom will reach the wedding venue, usually the Gurudwara, on a horse. The rest of the groom's party will accompany him on foot and a lot of music and dancing will be performed by them. Once the baarat reaches the venue they are welcomed by the bride's family in a traditional manner.
The core wedding ceremony of the Sikhs is called Anandkaraj. At the Gurudwara the ceremony starts with prayers. Once the groom sits in front of the Sikh holy book Guru Granth Sahib, the bride's brothers and uncles will escort her to the wedding.
Next, the priest will start the ceremony by explaining the Sikh philosophy on marriage to the couple. It is followed by prayers called Laavan. Before that the bride's father would place one end of a scarf in the groom's hand, it will be then passed over his shoulder and the other end will be placed on the bride's hand. The couple will then circle the holy book and will bow before the holy book at the end of the verse and take their respective seats. This will be repeated for the remainder of the each verse.
After the Laavan, the guests will shower flowers on the couple and the couple is thus officially married now. Later the guests will bless the couple and would give them money or other gifts.
The wedding ceremony is followed by a sumptuous feast. The reception also has lots of music, dancing and merriment.
At the end of the reception, the bride will depart to the groom's home. As she leaves her mother will stand behind her and would hold the pallu of her saree and the bride will throw rice over her head. It is done to keep her house prosperous and happy even after her departure.