Complete guide to Sikh wedding rituals | All you need to know as a guest

Published by Manohar Singh

A guide to Sikh Weddings along with rituals and their meaning. 

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For the people who still think that Sikh and Punjabi weddings are the same, that’s not true. Let’s get this clear for you. Sikhism is a religion whereas Punjabis are those whose native is Punjab. Unlike Hindu weddings, the priest has no role in selecting the wedding day. Both the families and the couple choose a favourable date and take pheras in gurudwara in front of holy Guru Granth Sahib. 


Before the Wedding day

Kurmaai Ceremony – Kirtan & Engagement




This is the ritual where the recital of Guru Granth Sahib takes place, and after that, rings are exchanged. Groom is given the kara (mandatory steel bangle), kirpan which Sikh men need to wear and a small knife which represents their heritage. Moreover, parent’s agreement is most important in Sikh wedding regardless of love marriage or an arranged marriage.


Chunni Chadhai or Chunni ceremony


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Before few days of the marriage, the groom’s family visits the bride’s family and covers the head of the bride with chunni which shows that bride has accepted to be a part of the groom’s family. In addition, the bride is also given the dress which she is supposed to wear at the wedding along with other gifts.


Mehndi and Chura ceremony


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This is a ritual is all about fun and music. Bride gets beautiful mehndi done on her hands and legs. According to the routine, Chura ceremony is the one where the bride’s uncle gives her a set of red and white bangles which are first dipped into milk and then presented. Kalires (golden ornaments) are attached to the chura.


Maiya Ceremony


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This is a ritual that happens at both the bride’s and the groom’s house by applying turmeric powder and yoghurt for the glowing skin on the wedding day. It is a happy ceremony with many candid pictures and fun memories. Wedding songs are sung on this occasion for enjoyment. This is much similar to the Hindu’s Haldi ceremony. It is the tradition where both the bride and groom are not allowed to go out of the house before the wedding day.


Gana Ceremony


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This is the ritual where a red thread is tied on the bride’s left and groom’s right hand a few days prior the wedding day. The thread contains a supari, an iron ring, a shell and beads of mustard tied to it in a small cloth. This is called the gana. It is believed that the thread would protect them from any adverse event or evil eye

Vatna ceremony



A woman of the house specially prepares a mixture of turmeric paste and mustard oil. The bride and groom in their respective homes are made to sit on a low stool. This paste is applied to them for the glow on the wedding day. This ritual is done to purify the individuals for the wedding.


Sikh wedding rituals – Day of the wedding

Sehra Bandhi ceremony


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It is an emotional moment for the groom’s family as he becomes a mature and responsible person now. This is the ritual performed at the groom’s house where Sehra is fixed on his head, which is tied to the turban.  Sweets and money are exchanged.


Baarat ceremony



The Groom, accompanied by some close friends and family, is supposed to reach the wedding venue. Family and friends dance while doing so. This tradition is all about music and dance. The horse is offered nuts, and the groom sits on it while reaching to the destination.


Milni ceremomy



The bride’s family welcomes the groom’s family and friends traditionally. They exchange some gifts while the priest recited some mantras. The ceremony gets started once the groom’s family is done with breakfast.


Anand Karaj – Sikh wedding ceremony


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This is the beginning of the ceremony, which is also called ‘ceremony of bliss’. The literal meaning of Anand Karaj is ‘Blissful Union’. Both the bride and groom visits gurudwara, where they sit and listen to the Sikh philosophy of marriage. The marriage can be performed by any Amritdhari Sikh (who has undergone Amrit Initiation in Sikhism). He explains to the couple the significance of marriage and the sacred promises they need to make for a happ marriage in future. They perform a set of religious songs when the couple is seated.


Laavan Prayers



This is a set of four prayers which are chanted while the couple walks around the holy guru Granth sahib. The bride’s dupatta and the groom’s shawl are tied, which shows the symbol of unity. The groom holds a small knife while performing the pheras. 


Wedding Lunch


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After the wedding ceremony, the guests are offered vegetarian food in the gurudwara. There is also a ritual called Roti, which signifies that this is the first meal of the bride as a married woman. The groom’s family offers a plate of food to the bride, which is covered with red cloth and some cash. 


Sikh Wedding Rituals – After the wedding

 Doli and Vidaai ceremony



This is the ceremony where the bride leaves her parent’s house. The bride throws rice grains over her shoulder. Doli refers to the wooden carriage which was earlier used to carry women. Nowadays, it is used to symbolise the departure of a woman from her parental home. This is usually an emotional event. The bride, along with the groom, sits in a beautifully decorated car and goes to the groom’s house. 


Reception Ceremony



A big event is hosted by the groom’s side to welcome the newlyweds. This event is all about fun, music and dance. Guests come to meet and greet and congratulate the new couple for their marriage and give blessings for a happy married life.


So if you are ever going to a Sikh wedding, don’t worry about the rituals. Sikh weddings are as simple as any other weddings. 


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