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My Ultimate Guide to a Sikh Wedding: The finale

Bhavna Profile PicSooooo, it’s the penultimate article in the Sikh wedding series and boy have I got a treat in store for you!

Last week it was all about the wedding ceremony itself, what happens before and at the Gurdwara, this week we look into what happens after the religious ceremony is completed. The events after the religious ceremony are just as important, there is a lot of fun to be had but be prepared for the emotional send-off too.

Sagan (blessings)

With the more traditional families who have the lunch/dinner served at the langar, the sagan is given to the couple at the Gurdwara straight after the Anand Karaj, however the trend is soon becoming to give sagan at the reception.

So the sagan is a blessing given to the couple by family, friends and guests, this involves giving them both some money usually £5 or £10 each.

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For the love of FOOD (and PARTY).

As per tradition the bride’s family organize the wedding reception and provide the grooms family and guests with a wedding dinner. This usually takes place in the same city as the bride’s home.

In some cases the food will be served at a langar (gathering) at the Gurdwara and no meat or alcohol can be served there, however many modern couples will opt to have a larger wedding reception party at a hotel or in a marquee as there are often 300+ guests that attend and are fed at the wedding reception. Ahhh the FOOD. My mouth waters thinking about it, so much yumminess.

There is also a perception to out do the previous family wedding, so the bigger and louder the party the better it is. Sometimes you’ll get dancers and musicians at wedding receptions too.

If there is one thing I can vouch for at Sikh weddings and about the Sikh people, its that they throw EPIC parties and they totally own that dance floor. I have never seen the moves I have seen at a Sikh wedding anywhere else. You have to experience it for yourself. There is often a lot of free flowing whisky going round at a Sikh wedding party too…

The food is served to the newly weds by the bride’s father and marks the start of everyone being fed too. This is sometimes called roti sagan (blessing of the roti)

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Wedding gifts for the guests

More food. This is what you get as a wedding favour/thank you from the parents. A big box of delicious indian sweets, usually ladoo is distributed among guests, in more recent times this has changed to a big box of chocolates, either way it’s a win-win situation. Make sure you eat some Gulab jamuns, my favorite!

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The emotional send off – Doli

Brace yourself. Make sure you have lots of tissues. You will cry.

You’ll often see images of Indian brides leaving their parental homes in floods of tears. This as we established in a previous article is normal. So don’t be freaking out thinking something really bad has just happened.

After the reception a selective group of family and friends from both the bride and the grooms family will gather at the brides paternal home for the send off, known as doli. This is when the bride leaves her ‘old’ home for her ‘new’ home.  Traditionally, the groom’s mother will not attend the doli as she will be preparing for the brides arrival at their home.

You’ll get to see some top class heckling and negotiation skills here too. The bride will already be in the house, while the groom has to negotiate a fee to enter the house, with the bride’s sisters, cousins, aunts and friends blocking his way into the house.  There is a lot of fun to be had here and once the groom pays up, he can cut the ribbon and enter the house.

Once inside the house, the couple are sat side by side, they are given gifts and the bride is then asked to scoop handfuls of rice from a bowl held in front of her, and throw the rice in the four corners of the house. I’ve been asked many times what this rice throwing signifies, this is also done at Hindu weddings.

In Indian culture, a daughter is seen as a form of the Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. So when she is leaving the parental home, throwing rice in all four directions of the house is a way to symbolize that she is leaving behind luck and wishing prosperity to all those in the house that she is leaving.

Cue. Hugging. Crying. Hugging. I’m a crier. This part really gets me.

The bride and groom’s car will be pushed by the bride’s brothers for a little distance and sometimes the groom’s father will throw money (small change) ahead of the car which, is picked up by children, their happiness is considered to bring good luck to the newlyweds.

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Lastly, the Paani Vaar.

This is the reason the groom’s mother doesn’t attend the doli. She’s getting things ready at their home to welcome to the newly weds. The mother of the groom will stand at the entrance of the house and bless the couple before they enter. This is done with a ‘garvi’ , this is a small glass filled with part water and part milk. The groom has to playfully stop his mother from drinking.

Once in the house, the bride and groom have to share a glass of milk, this because, sharing increases love in a relationship – I think this is a really sweet gesture and tradition. If only tom shared all his chocolates with me, erm…one can dream.

After the bride has been welcomed, there is more drinking, more feeding and more partying. YAY!

So this brings us to the end of the ultimate guide to Sikh weddings…but just one more thing before the start of a new series, I came across this BRILLIANT video by Tommy Sandhu and his team at BBC Asian Network and thought I’d share it with you. Get practicing these epic dance moves!

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Indian Wedding Photography by Bhavna Barratt
Profile picture by Tux & Tales Photography

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