The Essential Guide to Sikh Weddings: Engagement

2015 Jun 23 - by Shriya
After a Sikh bride announces that she is ready to be married, she will either look for a groom herself or seek her family's assistance. Arranged marriages were the norm until recently, with these still being common in rural communities. Many modern Sikh youth choose to find their mates themselves.

Regardless of how the marriage is set up, parental consent is very important in traditional Sikh communities. Because family members are so crucial to the wedding rituals themselves, the bride and the groom must win the approval of their respective families in order to marry.

Thaka

Breaking an engagement is considering a serious breach after this point. The thaka is a formal ceremony prior to the engagement, where the company signifies their intent to marry each other. Though no gifts or rings are given at this point, the vows are serious.

The thaka can occur on the same day as the engagement, prior to it, or even on the first official meeting between the two families. After the thaka, the formal gift-giving and prayers begin.

The girl's father will bless his future son-in-law with a saffron paste tikka on his forehead, called a tilak.

Kurmai

The engagement, kurmai, may be as far back as months before the wedding or even a few days before the ceremony.

The bride is gifted an engagement ring, and in some situations, the groom receives a gold ring from the bride as well. The bride will also receive a wedding ring after the Anand Karaj ceremony, but the groom will only wear one ring. Because of this, he may receive it at either the engagement or the wedding.

From Deepa & Devan's Wedding

The gifting of the rings is followed by the Ardas, a formal petitioning of God for the marriage ahead.

Proceedings

The girl's parents invite the boy and his family to their home. The Hymn of Bliss is sung, according to the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture. These recitations are always said before the Ardas.

After the hymns are recited, a prasad of fruit and nuts is offered as a blessing.

Throughout the proceedings, proper Sikh etiquette must be maintained - such as removing one's shoes in the home and remaining standing during the duration of the prayers. Sikhs also always cover their heads in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, as a sign of respect.

From Aanchal & Manvir's Sikh Wedding

Giftings

The girl's parents present the boy a small prayer-book, a gutka, a symbolic (or real) dagger to protect his future family, and a stell bangle, a kara. Along with these gifts, he is offered Indian mithai and dried fruits.

The gifts given during the engagement are part of a social custom, not a religious obligation. Some families choose to opt out of the gift giving at this stage.

After the formal engagement, the official pre-nuptial rituals will commence, intended to seek blessings from God after the family blessings have been given.

Check out the rest of the series here:

Introduction

Engagement - You are here!

Pre-Wedding Rituals

Wedding Traditions

Post-Wedding Traditions

Bridal Attire and Jewelry

Groom's Attire

Food and Desserts

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