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Sikh Wedding

Anand Karaj is the prescribed form of Sikh marriage; the words literally translate as 'Blissful Union". The Sikh marriage represents an equal union of two individuals. Itís a harmonious event with festive style which is very family oriented and informal in its atmosphere. Sikh marriages are usually arranged with the families acting as little more than introduction managers. The ultimate decision of marriage is left from that point, to the boy and girl. However in some cases, the boy and girl choose each other and seek out their parents for consent and blessing.

The Reht Maryada, which is the official Code of Conduct, specifies that no thought should be given to the perspective spousesí caste, race, or lineage. As long as both profess belief in the Sikh faith they may be joined in ceremony. The code strictly forbids any sort of dowry arrangement as it is not to be viewed in the same aspect as a business transaction. Sikhís are also discouraged from consulting horoscopes or following any other superstitions pertaining to a wedding date and time. The ceremony may not be held in a hotel or banquet style hall.

An engagement ceremony isnít necessary but is sometimes performed one week before the wedding. It sometimes takes place at the home of the boy as apposed to the Gurdwara. It includes the Ardas (the common Sikh prayer), Kirtan (hymns), and langer which is a common meal.

In the east marriages are typically a three day event which begins with the Braat (grooms family and friends) going to the girls home in the evening. They are welcomed, entertained, and hosted by the girlsí family and spend the night at her house. The following day the ceremony either takes place at the girls home or is moved to the Gurdwara. Following the religious ceremony; festivities, song and dance continue for the remainder of the day with the bride and groom departing the next day with his family. Either the wedding occurs the next morning followed by a dinner and dance at the banquet hall or hotel at night; or the religious ceremony and banquet take place on consecutive days. Although there may be some minor differences in regional customs, there is very little variance in the actual Anand Karaj.

Among the post wedding rituals the vidaal or doll ceremony marks the end of the wedding celebration. Itís very emotional as the brideís family watches their daughter depart from their home, throwing a handful of rice over her shoulder in wishing prosperity for her family, and leaves to start a new life with new dreams and aspirations.

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