BLISSFUL UNION! and buttloads of HASHISH

Within Pakistan a wedding is called ‘Sikh’ which by definition is, “Blissful Union”.  Seems like a splendid definition and appropriate for bringing two people together to celebrate their love.

If you want a wedding that just keeps giving then this is where you need to journey.  Attention grooms, within a ‘Sikh’ wedding you will also be pampered to the fullest!

The ‘engagement’ or the ‘Kumai’ is planned a week before the wedding and is either held at the grooms house or a temple.  During the engagement ceremony there is beautiful food, Kirtan music (devotional chanting) and prayers to embrace the future marriage.   The bride will decorate her body with objects (metal bracelets, an ornamental sword, and other shiny things), which will invite good luck.  This is just the beginning so hold on to your ‘blissful’ thoughts and glide into this amazing culture of Pakistan.

The ‘Gana’ ceremony is celebrated with the color red.  The groom will attach a red thread to his right wrist and the bride to her left.  Hanging from the brides delicately red thread will be a small silken bundle of sugar, shells and an iron key chain.   Followed by the ‘Gana’ ceremony is the ‘Vantra’ ceremony.   A scented powder made out of barley flour, turmeric and mustard oil is applied to the bodies of the bride and groom.  Followed by this interesting mixture of ingredients is a ritual bath.  Now, I’m not sure if this bath is intended for the couple to be together or separate but, why not make it a ‘blissful’ bath and unite with your lover.  If turmeric is not your thing perhaps lavender or rose is.  Give it a go!

After your ritual bath your skin will be prepared for the Henna ceremony.  In Pakistan the night before the ‘big day’, it’s a tradition to decorate your feet and hands with intricate designs from the gift of Henna (tattoo art).

The next ceremony is called the ‘Gharoli’ and is held the morning of the wedding at the groom’s house.  If there is a well nearby then the Sister in Law or a few Sister in Laws will fill up a jug with water.  I’m assuming if you don’t have a well near by then maybe a neighbor will gift you the use of their well.    After the jug has been filled with water the groom will prepare to be bathed by the women.  Men, sounds good to me!  OK, time for the bride.   The next ceremony is called ‘Chooda’.  This is where the bride’s uncle brings her a set of red and white ivory bangles, which have been dipped in buttermilk.  In older traditions brides would wear the bangles for a year but over the years bangles have become a little more relaxed and are worn for a month.  If you really dig the bangle look then by all means go for a year!  Oh, one more Uncle gift.  Not only does the uncle supply the bangles, he also will decorate the bride with a grand golden nose ring.  Not everyone looks good in a nose ring so if you don’t already have one maybe get a few opinions.  Perhaps a belly button ring if the nose ring isn’t the best match for you.

Back to the groom!  The next ceremony is the, ‘Schrahandi’.  This ceremony is where the groom’s sister ties a ceremonial floral veil to his forehead.  This symbolizes, ‘the creator’.   Within the groom tradition, he will also carry a sword, wear a turban and sport a lovely beard.  Following this ceremony the groom will then mount (yes, mount) a mare along with a brother (meaning both the groom and the brother will be on the horse) for protection.    They will then ride off into the land of Pakistan.  The wedding party also known as the ‘Baraat’ will follow the groom and brother to the brides home.  Once the wedding party arrives at the home of the bride, fireworks will be igniting their love and the festivities will begin.  BOOM BAM BOOM!  Followed by the fireworks is the traditional Pakistan breakfast along with devotional chanting (kirtan).

The day of the wedding is celebrated with more ceremonies and jollity games.  The first ceremony/game is the exchange of flower garlands between the groom and bride.  The exchange has to be done without the groom bending forward and so this is where the humor comes into play.  Another playful game is the capture of the groom’s shoes called ‘Juti Chupai’.  The younger girls from the bride’s side will discuss a plan in the intention of taking the grooms shoes.  However, the younger boys on the grooms’ side will protect the shoes to make the game a little more challenging.  Perhaps in the end the ladies will win because the groom ends up taking his shoes off for traditional reasons.   Once the shoes have been hidden then the groom will pay money and give rings in order to have his shoes returned.

The morning of the wedding, there is a very important ceremony called ‘Anand Karaj’.  The beautiful sounds of Kirtan (devotional chanting) are chanted by the groom and bride.  Within this ceremony they will also engage in prayers with a Guru named, ‘Granth Sahib’ to hold the intention of karma, dharma, and faith.  The dedication of this particular ceremony is to keep all of the ceremonies within the ‘Sikh’ wedding pure.   If you never have heard Kirtan then link on to a website and take your ears on a beautiful journey!

Next is the ‘Doll Muklava’ ceremony.  This is where the families follow the bride and groom to their new home.  A decorated car is waiting for the bride and groom and before they turn on the engine the men will push the car as far as they can.  In the entrance of the new home a magical potion has been poured which contains mustard oil.  There is also a bowl that has wheat and grains, the bride is invited to kick over the bowl representing her commitment to the home and bringing in prosperity.  As the bride enters the home with her many bangles, beautiful flowing fabric and intricate designs of henna she is feed sweets, given money, and jewelry from her mother in law.   This is the final ceremony of the wedding day.

But wait; there is the day after!  A beautiful meal is prepared for lunch and both families will go to the new home to give presents to the bride and groom.  There is also one last playful ceremony.  This ceremony is called the ‘welcoming’ and the game is called go fish’; sound familiar? Well, go fish is a little different in the Pakistan tradition compared to North America.  The bride and groom will take off their rings and put them in a pot of milk, they will then, ‘go fish’.  The first one to find their ring will become the boss within the household.  Come on bride!

If your planning on a Sikh wedding then there’s a lot of fun and beautiful ceremonies to plan.   Breathe in the elegance along with playfulness and fill your hearts with complete bliss.