I often wonder if my Sikh friend can marry his Hindu girlfriend. It turns out the same question has troubled him for a long time. To help him find out, we researched on whether a Sikh can marry a Hindu in a Gurdwara.
Can a Sikh marry a Hindu in a Gurdwara? Yes, a Sikh and Hindu can marry in a Gurdwara, but that depends on several factors. The Hindu must first convert to Sikhism. This is important because Sikhs believe that souls come together to form one bond when they marry. Once the souls become one in marriage, they must submit to Guru Sahib so that he can recognize and bless their union.
The Sikh religion has Guru Sahib at the center of everything they do, including marriage. Everything revolves around him. That is why a Hindu must first convert to Sikhism before they can marry a Sikh.
Can a non-Sikh marry in a Gurdwara?
A non-Sikh can’t marry in a Gurdwara. It is easy to understand why. To Sikhs, marriage isn’t just a ceremony but the coming together of two souls before Guru Sahib. Note that Gurdwara is often aptly referred to as Guru, which translates to a Sikh god’s residence.
The Guru only recognizes and blesses those who believe in him and submit to him. As such, anyone who doesn’t profess the Sikh faith can’t marry in a Gurdwara.
In modern Gurdwara, the Guru isn’t a deity, but the book of Sikh scriptures called Guru Granth Sahib. This is a crucial factor in Sikhism, especially where wedding ceremonies are concerned. For example, where two Sikhs wish to marry, their marriage can only take place where there is Guru Granth Sahib.
The same case applies where a Sikh wants to marry a non-Sikh that has converted to Sikhism. Unless the Guru Granth Sahib is present, a wedding ceremony cannot proceed.
Sikhs consider the Gurdwara as a sacred place, which is why they can’t allow non-Sikhs to marry inside it. It is important to note that where two Sikhs wish to marry inside the Gurdwara, they must first have an Amritdhari present to conduct the wedding.
The Amritdhari must be sure that the marriage is between two people who profess the Sikh faith. It is also important to note that the Amritdhari can be any man or a woman who is a devout Sikh. Without one, no wedding ceremony can take place inside the Gurdwara.
Marriage Outside The Gurdwara
Sikhs believe in one god. Hindus, on the other hand, believe in many gods. This creates a rift where a Sikh and a non-Sikh choose to marry. There are no shortcuts where marriage issues and Sikhism are in play. One has no choice but to convert.
Sikh marriage ceremonies don’t have to be celebrated inside the Gurdwara. As long as the Guru Granth Sahib is present, a marriage ceremony can proceed. This doesn’t mean, though, that the marriage ceremony can move outside the Gurdwara for purposes of uniting a Sikh and a non-Sikh or two non-Sikhs.
First off, you won’t get any Amritdhari who will be willing to officiate such a marriage. Then there is the fact that many Sikhs revere the Guru Granth Sahib so much that they can’t do what the book prohibits.
The Rehat Maryada on Marriage
The Rehat Maryada is the Official Sikh Code of conduct. It recognizes human diversity and specifies that no particular thought should be given to caste, lineage, or race, where two people who profess the Sikh faith wish to marry.
Sikhs live to the Rehat Maryada to its last word. The fact that it allows marriage between different caste systems makes it differ from Hinduism, which prohibits marriage between some castes. This alone makes it very hard for a Sikh and a Hindu to date or even marry.
Conversion To Sikhism
So, what exactly happens where one is ready to convert to Sikhism for purposes of marrying a Sikh? Are there rituals observed? Is the conversion process long? Will one be fully accepted as a Sikh after converting from Hinduism?
Unlike what many non-Sikhs believe, Sikhism doesn’t favor vigorous conversion campaign. It allows non-Sikhs to follow the religion on their own accord. This means that anyone can convert irrespective of age, gender, or race.
There is no grace period under which you can proceed to marry a Sikh after converting. A Hindu can convert to Sikhism and marry a Sikh the next day. Note, though, that converting means a complete lifestyle change.
Preparing for The Wedding
You may have to go through Kurmaj before marrying a Sikh. It is more or less like an engagement ceremony. It is not mandatory, but many Sikhs organize for them at least a week or two before the wedding. Think of it as an event that brings together the couples families, friends, and loved ones.
Kurmaj is usually conducted at the groom’s home or at the Gurdwara. Many new male converts choose to have the event done at the Gurdwara. This has a lot to do with the fact that the new convert’s family may not be familiar with the event or with the Sikh routines and rituals that come along with it. New female converts don’t have to worry about the event as it can’t proceed at the bride’s home.
Kurmaj features special Sikh prayers like the Ardas and hymns like the Kirtan. You may have to learn all these if you’re a new convert. You’ll quickly notice that generally, Sikhism features many prayers, recitals, and hymns. Many of their events, including weddings, feature special hymns and prayers, which you may have to learn as a new convert.
Hinduism and many other religions recognize dowry as a token that makes marriage possible. Sikhism doesn’t. According to Sikhs, paying the dowry is the same as exchanging money the way people do in commercial transactions. Instead of paying dowry, the bride’s and the groom’s families exchange gifts.
Sikh marriage ceremonies differ depending on where the couple chooses to celebrate the event. In the Eastern world, where Sikhs can quickly converge with other Sikhs, the event usually lasts three days.
It begins with the Braat procession, which is the groom’s family visiting the bride’s family in the evening. The Braat will then be received by the bride’s family, who must entertain the procession with song and dance.
The following day, the wedding will be celebrated at the local Gurdwara or the bride’s home. The newlyweds will then enjoy song and dance after the wedding ceremony. They’ll exchange gifts and generally have a good time. On the third day, the Braat will leave with the bride for the groom’s home.
Things change a little when it comes to Sikh weddings in the western world, where the wedding ceremony is always a one-day affair. Challenges in converging people make it hard for specific rituals like the Braat to happen. Either way, the newlyweds’ friends and family usually join for dinner or a short banquet where they exchange gifts.
It doesn’t matter whether one is a new Sikh convert or a devout Sikh from childhood. You must observe the Sikh circumambulation four times. As you do this, the Amritdhari will read to you four lava from the Guru Granth Sahib. You’ll only proceed with circumambulation after each Lavan. Finally, you’ll go through the Ardaas, which refers to supplication and completion of the marriage ceremony.
There are no shortcuts when it comes to weddings between Sikhs and Hindus. The Hindu must convert. This is important for Sikhs because it is what their special book, the Guru Granth Sahib specifies.
Lastly, marriage in Sikhism means two souls coming together for a lifetime. This means there’s no divorce in Sikhism. It also means there’s no polygamy as a soul can’t be united with many different souls.