Ten Sikh Wedding Traditions


Last September an old friend from work invited me to her daughter’s wedding.  It was a lovely day and I only wish that I had been able to attend some of the other ceremonies and parties.  Luckily the invitation included a guide and tips for non-Sikh guests. There is so much to a Sikh wedding that it was hard to keep my list to just ten wedding traditions and I’ve missed loads out.

  1. The Sikh wedding ceremony is called the Anand Karaj (Ceremony of Bliss)
  2. The invitations are sent in the names of the grandparents of the bride – even if they are deceased.  The invitations were beautiful – separate invitations for the two parties and the service (even the envelope was decorated and made an ideal photomat to scrapbook the wedding photos).
  3. The wedding veil or chunni is a gift from the groom’s mother.
  4. Mendhi (henna) applied to the bride’s palms signifies that she is engaged.  This is later extended to cover the hands and feet at a Sangeet and Mendhi evening, with traditional food, singing and dancing (Giddha).  Female guests also have their hands painted.
  5. After the engagement the bride is confined to her parents’ home until the wedding day. During this time the Maiyan ceremony is performed on two separate days.  The bride sits on a patri under a red canopy held by guests.  A yellow paste made from turmeric, gram flour and mustard oil is spread on her arms legs and face to beautify her and symbolises leaving the single life behind. Afterwards everyone has a red thread (gana) tied to their wrist to protect them from bad luck.
  6. The bride’s Uncles prepare her the night before the wedding – with wedding bangles (Chura), ornaments (Kaliras) and place the veil on her head to signify that she is now ready for her wedding day.
  7. On the wedding day the bride’s family wait for the groom’s family outside the Gudwara (Sikh temple), while the bride is confined to a room inside.  The procession of the groom’s family or Barat is accompanied by bhangra dancing and is received in a ceremony of Milni (ritual meeting of the families), where the men exchange garlands and hugs.  All guests then share tea and breakfast – without the bride.
  8. Both bride and groom have a number of young women in attendance and each family has its own colour for the wedding.  Heads have to be covered in the Gudwara and the families provide scarves in their colour for male guests without turbans.
  9. The bride and groom both wear red and gold.  The groom wears a scarf which is used during the ceremony in the palla pharana, in which the father gives his daughter in marriage.  The bride’s father places one end of the scarf into his daughter’s hand to signify that she is leaving his care to join her husbands.
  10. During the ceremony the groom walks round the Sri Guru Granth Sahib four times followed by the bride holding the scarf.  Her male relatives help her round to signify their support for her as she leaves one family for another.

I didn’t take many photos – I felt a little uncomfortable doing so.  I would have loved one of the shelves full of shoes in the entrance to the Gudwara.  I took some photos before the Milni – I think they capture the colour of the event and include my friend (middle of the main photo in pink and silver).

I matted the photos and decided on their position but struggled with the rest of the page for such a long time.  I had some K&Co papers which included a paisley pattern which would work – but they were just too pale and pastel.  Then I spotted a tutorial for ageing book pages with cold tea and thought I would try it with this.  It worked but the paper was then crinkly, so I pulled out the sewing machine and stitched them down.  I also painted cold tea round the base cardstock to tie it together.

I had red jewels and letters to pull in the red from the wedding party but no gold until I received these gold doilies from Mitra.  I think they set off the medallions well.  The garland at the top is from an earring I bought in Primark.  I think my pages have been a bit flat lately – just a photo and some paper with the odd pre-made embellishment, so it was good to make a page with a bit more work behind it.

So that’s my 10 on the 10th for April.  Visit Shimelle for more lists of 10.


20 responses »

  1. That’s a richly deocrated page and photo, perfect for echoing the days themselves. Thank-you for all hte interesting information too!

  2. hey j, what an interesting cultural post. i learned lots about differnet cultural issues during my nursing career and love the different ceremonies and beliefs i learned about. i have seen many weddings but never been to one like this. it looks beautiful. i fully understand ur reticence in taking pictures as it is hard to know whether it is ok.
    jo xxx

  3. How very interesting! I’ve never heard of some of these customs before. Thanks for sharing. And what a lovely page! Love the gold doilies and the dangles at the top. Just beautiful!

  4. I love learning about other cultures and traditions and your layout captures the spirit of the day perfectly. The colours you’ve used are just beautiful!

  5. Thank you for your nice comment on my blog. The reason you need a special foot to do appliques is that you need to be able to move your fabric, or paper freely. With a normal foot, the material is stuck and unless you lift the foot up, you can’t turn easily. Well, that’s my understanding anyway !!

  6. Those doilies really helped, wow! I had no idea!!! Great page, I think it’s fascinating you’ve captured all these details regarding something you’ve been a part of and is a different culture. That is amazing!

  7. I love learning about different cultural traditions. This is awesome.. love your layout. I bet it was a great time. =)

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