Sikh pre-nuptial rituals
Sikh weddings extend over a period of one week, because they are very elaborate, but not showy and pompous. Sikh weddings are focused on religious practices and they are very simple. Wedding rituals start with a week before the wedding ceremony, and they have great significance for both the couple and their families. One important pre-wedding ritual is Akhand Paath. Within 48 hours, it is read the entire Guru Granth Sahib book, and the reading has to be unbroken. Usually it is started on a Friday morning and it ends on Sunday morning, and it is organized in the weekend before the wedding ceremony. At the Sikh Wedding Rituals are taking part as many family members as possible, and this ritual is not an exception. This pre-wedding ritual has as purpose the understanding of the cultural responsibilities of the groom and bride.
Other important pre-nuptial rituals are Shagan and Chunni Chadana. Shagan is the term used for the visit made by the bride’s family to the groom’s family. They are bringing wrapped gifts, which contain dried fruits, saffron paste, almond and coconut broken in half. While this ritual, the groom is welcomed into the family. While Chunni Chadana the groom’s female relatives, bring the bride a red outfit and jewelry gifts. The bride receives a red outfit, jewelry and perfume to wear in the wedding day. Before Sikh weddings it is taking place an event called Sangeet, when songs are used as a way of storytelling, and the two families are celebrating the wedding by singing and dancing together. This event has to be hold in a large hall because many guests are coming, and they have to have plenty of room to dance and have dinner.
In the day before the wedding ceremony, the female relatives of the groom arrive at the bride’s house to apply henna on her feet and hands. This ritual is called Mehndi, because the groom’s family is the one that brings the dry mehndi powder. When the bride cleans the dried mehndi from her skin turmeric paste is applied to her, because she has to have a bright and glowing skin in her wedding day. When turmeric paste is rinsed from the bride, she receives traditional white and red bangles from her maternal uncle. She has to wear these bangles for a few months after the wedding ceremony because they symbolize the status of newlywed. Usually she has to wear 11 bangles on every of her hands. After receiving them, she has to start dressing in her wedding clothes, because the official ceremony is the next event. When she is dressed, her family ties strings dipped in turmeric and saffron on her wrists, as a goodbye sign and also to wish her good fortune. The guests are receiving invitations for all these events, and sometimes they are sent together with the wedding invitation. After these rituals are ended, the wedding officially begins, and other important rituals have to be done.