Sikh Pre-Wedding Rituals

Pre-wedding rituals play an important role in the wedding preparation. Before any ritual takes place, the engagement, or shagun, is officially acknowledged by an exchange of gifts between the two prospective fathers-in-law. A tilak ceremony is performed by the bhaiji. The tilak, a red paste, is applied to the forehead of the groom between the brows. This spot is considered to be the seat of latent wisdom and mental concentration. The bride's father presents a gold bangle, or kara to the groom with eleven gold coins attached. They are strung to a black thread and put around the bride's neck after the wedding . After the engagement is official, female relatives of the groom visit the bride and present her with the chunni or wedding veil.

Maiya - confinement - takes place in the days immediately preceding the wedding. The bride and groom are confined to their respective homes and are not permitted to change clothes. A red thread, gana, is tied to the right wrist of the groom and the left wrist of the bride. Shells, pearls, a key ring and a silk bundle of sugar are hung from the gana of the bride.

As the wedding day approaches, a scented powder or vatna is applied to the bodies of the bride and groom followed by a ritual bath.

The Mehendi ceremony takes place one or two days before the wedding.
Friends of the bride paint mehendi (henna) patterns on her hands and feet.

On the morning of the wedding, similar rituals are performed at the homes of both the bride and groom. During the gharoli ceremony, female relatives bathe the groom while a bagh or cloth is held over his head. The bride is then covered with the same cloth for her bath. Finally, she is lifted up by her maternal uncle while red and white bangles, chura, and wedding ornaments, kaliras are attached to her wrists.

As the wedding party prepares to leave for the gurdwara, the milin ritual takes place at the groom's home. A veil is tied to the groom's forehead and a garland of currency notes is put around his neck by his sisters. He then mounts a decorated black mare while his sisters-in-law put collyrium in his eyes, symbolizing protection from evil.



Sikh Lavan Ritual