A non-Sikh friend of mine recently fell in love with a Sikh. He asked me if I thought they could marry. I didn’t know much about such relationships, so I researched whether a Sikh can marry a non-Sikh.
Can a Sikh Marry a non-Sikh? Yes, a Sikh can marry a non-Sikh, but it depends on whether the non-Sikh is willing to believe in Guru Sahib. Sikhs believe that when people marry, their souls become one. Guru then blesses the union after the couple submits to him in reverence. If the non-Sikh can’t submit to Guru, their souls can’t unite. The marriage, therefore, becomes null before Guru.
I have learned a lot about Sikh and non-Sikh marriage unions. As you’re about to find out, Sikhs can be very accommodating to non-Sikhs who choose to convert to Sikhism after marrying one of their own.
Can a Sikh marry a Catholic?
Yes, a Sikh can marry a catholic. Before that happens, though, a catholic needs to understand what it takes to marry a Sikh.
Sikhs revere Guru Sahib more than any other deity in Sikhism. They crave his blessings in everything they do, from business, health, and even marriage. Their feelings towards Guru Sahib always remain with them. In other words, they don’t waver their faith in Guru Sahib even after getting married.
Sikhs reverence and belief in Guru Sahib is so strong that they don’t nod their head to him. They also don’t fold their hands when praying to Sahib Guru. Instead, they slightly tilt their back forward toward Sahib Guru. They then go on their knees and bow down to the ground as a symbol of complete submission and respect to Guru.
It is safe to say that for a catholic to marry a Sikh, they must be ready to revere, submit and respect Sahib Guru as explained above. It is also safe to say that in Sikhism, everything revolves around Sahib Guru. If a Catholic is not ready to convert to Sikhism and observe their rituals, they can’t marry a Sikh.
It is essential for any Catholic who wishes to marry a Sikh first to understand the Anand Karaj concept. The words translate to ‘Blissful Union.’ To many people, the words may have a direct, ordinary meaning. To a Sikh, though, the words are sacred.
Can a Sikh marry a Muslim?
Though not so common, a Sikh can marry a Muslim. But like it is the case with a Sikh marrying a Catholic, the Muslim must denounce Islam for Sikhism. This has everything to do with ensuring that once married, the couple will submit to Guru Sahib.
The Rehat Maryada
The Rehat Maryada is the Official Sikh Code of Conduct. It specifies that no special thought should be given to race, lineage, or caste. As long as a girl and a boy profess the Sikh faith, they may join in wedlock in Anand Karaj.
Then there is the dowry issue, which many non-Sikhs usually get wrong. The Rehat Maryada forbids any dowry arrangement mainly because Sikhs believe that marriage shouldn’t be treated as a business transaction.
Rehat Maryada also forbids the use of horoscopes and other superstitions to determine the wedding date, venue, or time. Once the date is set, couples begin to plan for the Anand Karaj ceremony, which can be done in any Gurdwara home. The ceremony can also be done anywhere where Sir Guru Granth Sahib has been installed. Notably, the religious ceremony cannot be done in a banquet hall or a hotel.
There are also no particular restrictions on time. In other words, the Anand Karaj Ceremony can start or end anytime. Note, though, that many Sikhs prefer to perform Anand Karaj in the morning and finish it before noon.
Pre Wedding Activities
Sikhs have what they call the Kurmaj, which refers to an engagement ceremony. It is not required, but many Sikhs have them one week before the wedding, mostly to bring friends and loved ones together. The ceremony is usually conducted at the groom’s home or the Gurdwara. It features the Ardas, a common Sikh prayer, Kirtan, special hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib, and the langer, a shared meal.
Where the Kurmaj is performed at the groom’s home, the bride’s family must first visit the groom’s family for a short time. The bride’s family will then present the groom with a kirpan, a kara, or Indian sweets. The groom’s family must reciprocate the bride’s family kindness and generosity by offering them an Indian suit for the bride and other gifts.
In the East, marriage ceremonies are typically a three-day affair. It begins with the groom’s family and friends, a procession referred to as the Braat, visiting the bride’s house in the evening. The Braat must be received, entertained, and hosted well by the bride’s family. They’ll spend the night with the bride’s family.
This creates a perfect chance for families to know each other well. It also creates a perfect time for the bride to enjoy her childhood home one last time before leaving for her matrimonial home.
The following day the wedding ceremony must take place either at the local Gurdwara or at the bride’s home. Song and dance will go on after the ceremony. The groom and his family, together with the bride, will then leave for their new home.
Constraints in time and challenges in coordinating so many people usually make it hard for Sikhs in the West to observe the Anand Karaj as their counterparts in the East do. That explains why Sikh weddings in the western world last for just a couple of hours. The newlyweds’ friends and family then convene for dinner or a dance banquet to wish the new couple well.
Any Amritdhari (a person who has undergone traditional Amrit initiation and is a devout Sikh) can officiate a Sikh marriage ceremony. Notably, in instances where a Sikh intends to marry a non-Sikh, the Amritdhari must be fully convinced that the non-Sikh has agreed to convert to Sikhism fully. Only then will the Amritdhari explain the couple’s obligations to each other as husband and wife.
The wedding ceremony is usually very simple. It is also short. The groom puts a sash over the shoulder and sash’s end must be placed in the bride’s hands by the groom’s guardian, biological father, or someone else who is older than the groom. Once this is done, the Amritdhari proceeds to read the four Lavan (stanzas) to the bride and groom from the Granth Sahib.
The couple must stand after the first stanza and walk slowly around the Guru Granth as ragis (religious singers) sing the same stanza. The bridegroom must lead the bride as they go around the Guru Granth.
The couple return to their positions after the first stanza from the Granth Sahib is read to them. They must remain standing for the next stanza before commencing the next circumambulation. Note that these days, couples prefer to sit after each circumambulation of the Guru Granth Sahib. It is cumbersome, especially to a new Sikh convert, but the practice has since been accepted as a norm.
The fourth Lavan recital and hymnal symbolize marriage. It is followed by Ardaas, which is supplication and completion of the marriage ceremony. Random reading of a hymn from the Guru Granth Sahib then follows. Finally, Karah Parshad, which are sweets considered sacred, is distributed to everyone present.
It doesn’t matter what a person believes in. As long as you’ve agreed to marry or get married to a Sikh, you must convert to Sikhism. This is important to Sikhs because Guru Sahib must first recognize that the couple’s two souls have become one after marriage. The couple must also submit to Guru Nanak. Again, this is important because anything short of submission on the bride or groom’s part means that Guru Nanak won’t bless the marriage. He won’t also recognize it.