We all love a Punjabi wedding but do you know what the wedding ceremony actually means? For many couples getting married at a Gurdwara – a Sikh Temple, the religious wedding ceremony is known as Anand Karaj – a blissful union, where the couple will marry in front of the Guru Granth Sahib while the guests gather around the couple, usually with men on one side and women on the other. A Sikh wedding is a special occasion during which two people are joined in equal partnership. The wedding consists of different stages of the Sikh Wedding ceremony where the Bharat or bridegroom party leave their home and are greeted by the Bride’s family at the Gurdwara. If you have ever been to a Punjabi wedding you will often see the brides sisters and other female members tease the groom and his family and ask for money in order for him to enter the premises and get married to the bride. Some girls are successful and others, well, let’s just say are defeated but regardless of the harmless banter, the groom and his party enter the building and lovingly greeted by the brides family with Milni & Tea. The Giani/Sikh Priest will read the Ardas, which is a special prayer followed by the formal introductions of both sets of parents, siblings, uncles and aunts and so on. Due to the timing of events, introductions are kept to a limited number so that the rest of the day runs on time, and we know how important time keeping is in the months of event planning!
At any wedding you attend, guests want food and the food we know from our experience makes any wedding a good wedding. After the milni, the groom and his party are served tea and breakfast. Traditionally, samosa, pakora and mithai are served with hot tea and refreshing beverages. Although, with our passion for good cuisine our breakfast menu has a wide variety of choice, such as aloo parontha or channa bhatoora – a light meal fit for royalty. If any guests are travelling from afar, our breakfast dishes will satisfy the hunger pangs and will settle any butterflies for the bride and groom before the marriage ceremony. For years, Punjabi families have known that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and a hearty one is a great start to the day especially weddings.
Moving to the the Darbar, the main hall where the wedding ceremony will take place, the groom is seated with the rest of the men where his sisters will remove the grooms sehra or kalgi before sitting in front of the holy scripture. The bride will make her entrance and sit on the left of the groom. Both bride and groom, and their parents will stand for another Ardas before the actual wedding ceremony takes place. Most would say that the bride’s father has an important role in a wedding, especially during the Palla Rasam, which symbolises that he is giving his daughter away. The father will take the end of the grooms scarf and place in the hands of the bride. We see many of the bridal party fill their eyes with tears. After this, the bride’s brothers will stand around the Guru Granth sahib and the couple will begin their lavan. The word 'lavan' means the next stage or to break away, since the bride is breaking away from her parents house and uniting with her husband and family.
The Groom leads the Bride and they will walk around the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Scripture) four times at set intervals, bowing at the beginning and end of each stanza. The brothers will take turns to guide the bride around, which actually stems from a tradition from years and years ago when it was tradition for the bride to cover her face to protect her from the evil eye, thus the bride couldn’t see through the veil and her brothers would be there to guide her as well as being her protectors.
During the Anand Karaj, each verse during the ceremony is a vow written by the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das Ji. The Ragis will sing each verse of the marriage song as bride and groom joined by the palla, walk around the Siri Guru Granth Sahib.
1st stanza: The first verse of the nuptial round hymn asserts that marriage is encouraged as the best state of life for a Sikh.
2nd Stanza: The second verse of the nuptial round hymn conveys the awakening feelings of love a bride has when leaving her former life, and beginning a new life in partnership with her husband.
3rd Stanza: The third nuptial round hymn declares the bride's detachment from the world and outside influences, while becoming more deeply devoted to her husband wishing only to live for him.
4th Stanza: The fourth verse of the nuptial round hymn describes a spiritual union of love and devotion where no feeling of separation is possible, imparting perfect joy, and contentment. Upon completion of the fourth round, the bride and groom are considered to be man and wife.
A summary of all the lavan simply means that both husband and wife are devoted to one another and that they may be husband and wife that sit together but they are indeed two bodies with one light.
The actual Sikh wedding is under an hour, but as with all traditions prior to and after the ceremony, the wedding is generally 3-4 hours long. After the wedding ceremony, another Ardas is read; everyone will stand in front of the Guru Granth Sahib before being served parsad – a sweet offering made of sugar and flour.
As with any wedding, it is tradition to serve a wedding lunch. Some families decide to have an afternoon reception and guests will make their way to the venue. Or if the hosts will be inviting guests to an evening reception, lunch will be served at the Gurdwara, where vegetarian dishes will be served. Our traditional Punjabi menu offers our hosts an array of options, which are delectable flavours and aromas of North Indian cuisine fit for royalty.
Planning a Punjabi wedding? We have years of experience with event planning to help bride and grooms plan their dream wedding with extensive choices for venues and with innovative ideas for Indian wedding catering. Your guests are guaranteed to remember your event when Ragamama Ragasaan are in the picture!