The Indian sub-continent is a home to many cultures, languages, and religions. Typically, there are many events associated with a Punjabi Sikh wedding. Some of the key events are the maiyan, Jago, religious ceremony, and more. For this post, we are going to focus on what to expect at a Sikh wedding ceremony.

What To Expect At A Sikh Wedding

On the day of the wedding, you will most likely end up at the Gurdwara (Sikh temple). Some couples may have their ceremony outside of the Gurdwara (e.g. an outdoor ceremony), but that is rare. At the Gurdwara, there are three events that will happen, and they are the Milni, the Anand Karaj and Langar.

The Milni

The Milni is a ceremony that typically happens just outside of the Gurdwara. At the Milni, the bride’s family welcomes the groom and their family. Milni essentially translates into “introductions”, so this time is spent introducing family members from each side, meeting each other. Prior to introductions, the Milni starts with a Sikh prayer (Ardaas), and then introductions follow. For example, the facilitator may ask for fathers from each side, to greet and hug each other. The process is then done for other family members (e.g. sisters, aunts, uncles, etc.). Below is a video that demonstrates what a Milni looks like.

Depending on the size of the families, the Milni lasts between 45 and 90 minutes, so be ready to stand up for a while!

Entering The Gurdwara

After the Milni, the couple and their groups enter the Gurdwara. Before entering the Gurdwara, you will want to make sure to do the following:

  • Cover your head. For women, this means covering your head with a scarf. For men, this means putting on a ramaal (a cloth head covering). If you don’t have a head cover or don’t know where to find one, ask the bridal/groom party, or someone at the temple.
  • Wash your hands. Typically, there is a section with sinks to do this.
  • Take off your shoes.

At this point, you can enter the Gurdwara. Upon entering the Gurdwara, walk up slowly to the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Book), prostrate/bow, and put alms (money) into the large container in front of the Guru Granth Sahib. See picture below, for an example. After doing this, take a seat on the ground (sit where others are sitting).

What To Expect At A Sikh Wedding

The Anand Karaj

The Anand Karaj is the Sikh wedding ceremony, and it starts shortly after the guests have taken their seats. The ceremony consists of a series of hymns and traditions, that require the couple to walk a circle around the Gurdwara. Each circle around the Guru Granth Sahib is referred to as a Laava. Therefore, there are 4 Laava, each one accompanied by the recitation of a specific part of Sikh scripture. At the end of the ceremony, another Ardaas is done and people come up to give gifts and take pictures with the couple.

After the Shagun is done, someone will hand out Kara Parshad, which kind of looks like a ball of brown dough, and tastes sweet.

The Langar

After the Anand Karaj is done, everyone is expected to eat Langar. Within the Sikh faith, Langar refers to a free community kitchen that serves vegetarian food. The meal is typically in a separate room/hall on the same property as the Gurdwara. After langar, the events at the Gurdwara are complete!

*For wedding invitations, signs, games and other ideas, check out our SHOP!