Sikh Wedding Ceremony
The families, with the agreement of the bride and groom, usually arrange a Sikh wedding, or Anand Karaj, or the couple choose each other and then seek the approval of their families.
The Official Sikh Code of Conduct forbids any dowry arrangement; two Sikhs may be joined in matrimony regardless of caste, race or lineage. The Kurmai, the traditional Sikh engagement ceremony, is sometimes performed a week before the wedding.
The wedding ceremony can be performed in any Gurdwara (temple) or in a home where the Sikh Holy Scripture has been respectfully installed; it may not take place in a hotel or banqueting hall.
Anand Karaj is usually conducted in the mornings and takes several hours at most; variations in the ceremony tend to be minimal.
In the West, weddings are usually a one- or two-day affair; the wedding either occurs in the morning followed by a dinner and dance, or the religious ceremony and banquet take place on consecutive days.
On the day, the bride's family wait in the venue and the groom arrives with his family in procession, traditionally on horseback.
There may be a light meal before the ceremony, and garlands are exchanged.
Male and female guests are normally seated separately, though non-Sikh men and women may be seated together.
Guests should never wear white (it is deemed unlucky) to a Sikh wedding, but instead should wear deep, vibrant colours such as reds and purples; men and women must wear a head covering. Shoes are removed at the venue's entrance.
Every time the bride or groom stand or sit during the ceremony, they bow down to the Sikh Holy Scripture to show respect, with their foreheads touching the ground.
The father of the bride makes a symbolic gesture that his daughter is leaving his care for that of her husband by placing one end of a sash worn by the groom in his daughter's hand.