Couples getting married these days, regardless of their religion, whether Sikh or Hindu will always try and do something a little bit different whilst still maintaining religious and to some extent cultural identities.
The main difference between a Sikh wedding and a Hindu wedding is how the main wedding event is carried out. With a Sikh wedding taking place in a Sikh temple, the Gurdwara whilst the Hindu wedding takes place in a venue like a banquet hall. The Hindu wedding will have many idols placed around a sacred fire whilst a Sikh wedding centers on the Sikh holy book.
When I got married, I opted to not get married in the Sikh temple, the Gurdwara and instead decided to get married in a manor house, where one of the rooms was set up as a holy room with the Sikh holy book, the Guru Grant Sahib. As part of the wedding ceremony, the Anand Karaj, I had to follow my husband to be four times around the holy book.
When one of my Hindu friends got married, I went to her wedding at a banqueting hall and vividly remember the sacred fire which she and her would be husband had to walk around. It was a more colorful event than most Sikh weddings and I remember the placement of idols like Ganesh being prominent during the wedding ceremony.
Weddings today aim to be different to the past weddings would be brides and grooms have attended whether these be family or friends’ weddings. More and more couples are now opting to hire wedding planners to arrange and organize their wedding ceremonies, from the very start. From the initial engagement to the final function to the wedding reception.
This not only takes the pressure away from the family members and friends but, allows the couple to have more of say throughout the wedding ceremonies. They can decide how they wish to conduct their ceremonies, may be have ‘themed’ functions and the way in which they want each and every function venue to be decorated.
This also takes the pressure off finding different venues required to cater for different wedding events and ceremonies, including all the steps required towards the actual wedding day and how these will be conducted to ensure a well-organized event takes place.
Wedding Planners often have in-house or access to caterers, mehndi artists, beauticians, make-up artists, hair dressers, DJ’s, decorations, access to venues, bands, dancers to wedding cake designers. Therefore, saving valuable time and stress in researching each particular criteria for the wedding couple and their families. By using reputable wedding planners the couple will be ensured of the very best service throughout.
What is the difference between Sikh and Hindu weddings?
Traditionally a Sikh wedding has always been different to a Hindu wedding, whereby each of these religions have their own set of traditions to follow. These traditions and ceremonies can vary considerably, with the number and the length of these wedding ceremonies differing too.
In most cases, the actual number of functions is a personal choice and of course, personal budgets can also play a part in deciding which ceremonies to opt for and which ones to discount. At my Sikh wedding, we decided on only doing the main ceremonies as the cost became prohibitive.
In the following part of this article, I will take a look at the differences between a Sikh wedding and a Hindu wedding concentrating on the following areas:
- wedding venues
- time and length of wedding
- Idols and Gods
- wedding vows
- wedding food and drink
The actual Sikh wedding normally takes places in a Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship), in front of the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh holy book). However, this isn’t always the case as more and more couples especially in the western countries like the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, are electing to have their weddings away from the Gurdwara.
Thereby, the religious Sikh elements of the wedding ceremony like the Guru Grant Sahib are taken to the wedding venue and like at the Gurdwara, the wedding ceremony is performed by a Granthi (Sikh priest). The couples sit at the front of the Guru Granth Sahib whilst guests sit behind them.
The Anand Karaj wedding ceremony takes place with all guests sitting on the floor facing the Guru Granth Sahib, in a way where their feet are not pointing towards the Guru Granth Sahib. Generally most people with sit with their legs crossed.
Any footwear has to be removed before entering a Sikh place of worship or where the Guru Grant Sahib is placed. All guests, male, female and children have to cover their heads. Both men and women are segregated from each other, with men on one side and women on the other side.
For Hindu weddings, the couple will get married in a venue chosen normally by the parents of the bride. The actual wedding ceremony happens under a Mandap, which is basically where the bride and groom sit under, while the Pandit, (Hindu priest) will conduct the wedding.
The Mandip can be erected at any choice of venue and therefore, is only a temporary measure, unless of course the wedding is taking place in a Hindu temple. The mandap normally consists of 4 pillars, a frame, two chairs which are known as royal chairs for the bride and groom and side, less formal chairs for the parents of the bride and groom.
The mandap is decorated to the couples/parents taste. Couples sit around the Havan, sacred fire where the wedding ceremony is performed. The Hindu ceremony can lasts anything from an hour and a half to two hours.
The atmosphere at a Sikh wedding will be slightly different too as guests are not encouraged to talk amongst themselves, they are requested to listen to the Sikh prayers and Kirtan (Sikh hymns) so the atmosphere here is probably more of a serious and a formal feel. Guests are encouraged to attend the wedding from the start to the end of the wedding ceremony.
A Hindu wedding is a little more relaxed where guests can talk throughout the ceremony and has more of a festive feel and a less formal atmosphere.
Time and length of Wedding
The Sikh wedding ceremony will normally take place during the day whilst a Hindu wedding ceremony will take place in the evening. I remember my Sikh wedding starting at around 10am, with the religious part of the ceremony taking place around 11am.
A Sikh wedding normally lasts one hour whilst a Hindu ceremony is longer, lasting up to two hours. Traditionally in India, both Sikh and Hindu weddings used to take a lot longer but over the centuries the ceremonies have been shortened.
Idols and Gods
The Hindu’s believe in a number of different Gods which have a specific role in the life cycle. Therefore, at a Hindu wedding you may find statues displayed of these gods like Ganesh, being placed around or near the mandap.
The Sikhs only believe in one god and in a Sikh wedding, there are no idols as Sikhs don’t believe in these. There maybe pictures of the Sikh Gurus especially if the wedding takes place in a Sikh Gurdwara but these pictures aren’t specifically put up for the wedding, these pictures are part of the Gurdwara.
For a Hindu wedding to be valid, the Hindu couple must walk seven times around a sacred fire whilst holding hands and make their vows. These vows are an essential part of the Hindu wedding ceremony and are known as Saptapadi.
In a Sikh wedding the vows are unspoken and the bride follows her would be husband around the holy book the Guru Grant Sahib, from where religious verses are read.
Wedding Food and Drinks
After the religious part of the Sikh wedding ceremony has taken place, there is normally a function, away from the temple at a venue. This function is sometimes known as the reception. Family members and guests of the bride and groom congregate for a sit down meal, with the main table where the bride and groom and immediate family sit, surrounded by other tables where other family members and guest sit.
Food plays an important part at all weddings, and at a Sikh wedding this is no exception. Food really does play a very important part, as people will always talk about a wedding whilst reflecting on the quality of the food. So making sure the caterers supply the highest quality products is essential.
Meat as well as vegetarian dishes are available at a Sikh wedding when the wedding takes place away from religious buildings like the Gurdwara, as it is forbidden to bring or eat meat in Sikh religious buildings. Normally there are a number of courses served during a Sikh wedding with a starter, main and dessert.
Alcoholic drinks are available at most Sikh weddings, as long as the wedding function does not take place in a religious Sikh building like the Gurdwara. A majority of Sikhs do drink alcohol, so this is not something seen as taboo in the Sikh way of life.
For Hindu weddings, tend to be more of a vegetarian affair, as a majority of tend to be vegetarians so only vegetarian food will be supplied at all their wedding ceremonies. At a Hindu wedding all three courses are served all at once and is more commonly a self-service. All the dishes are lined up and people just help themselves to anything and everything they want.
There will be no alcohol at most of the Hindu wedding functions with only a selection of soft and non-alcoholic drinks served.
During the festivities of a Sikh wedding, music plays an important part, and this includes the Dhol (traditional drum) being played when the bride and groom enter the wedding function to the music played during the dancing.
The music primarily consists of Bhangra music and everyone joins in with a bit of bhangra dancing, bringing generations across the board together to dance on the dance floor. Bhangra dancing is obviously a must at any Sikh function, so music is always upbeat and loud.
Sometimes, a DJ and a live Dhol player will be hired on this occasion to ensure that party atmosphere is achieved. In some cases close family members and friends may choreograph a dance routine together as well and perform this at the event.
Hindu weddings will have dancing elements too, during the ceremonies and these can be more focused on Bollywood style music. Specific events like the Garba may also be themed in a Bollywood style.
Similar Wedding Ceremonies
Some of the wedding ceremonies in both Sikh weddings and Hindu weddings are quite similar and some of these are discussed below.
The Sikh Sangeet event normally takes place in the evening. It is part of the rituals of the wedding ceremonies . The term Sangeet basically means music. This is open to both the bride and grooms’ close family and friends. It takes place the day before the actual wedding day. It is not only a great excuse for the couple to party with friends and family members but, it also works to unite together both sets of the families. A great way to get to know each other.
The Sangeet affair can be as low key or as lavish as you choose. It really depends on your personal preference and obviously on your budget.
It is a fun filled event which can take place at the brides’ family home. However, as with everything, couples and times are changing with each generation and each couple try and strife to do something different. It is more common now to arrange the Sangeet night at a venue with a theme night. Couples can opt for a Bollywood theme, a black tie event or even a Karaoke function to name but a few. These days you can basically choose any theme that you wish.
Couples are now opting to have their venues decorated according to their theme which enhances and adds an extra touch to the event and enhances to your theme.
In the Sikh community, the Sangeet function is traditionally the place, mainly for women, of all generation, to sing old folk songs. These songs basically tease not only the groom but, his close family members in a fun and harmless way.
The sentiment of a Hindu Sangeet is primarily the same as the Sikh, the only difference in the Sangeet in a Hindu religion may be towards the choice of music and the type of dancing. Where the Sikhs opt for their traditional Bhangra dancing and Punjabi folk songs or modern Punjabi songs, the Hindu’s may prefer to opt for Bollywood music with their traditional dancing of Garba’s.
Obviously, these days there is and can be a cross over with the music and dance. Nothing is set in stone; it really depends on the couples personal style and choice of music and dance.
Mendhi plays an important part in the wedding ceremonies regardless if you are Sikh or Hindu. Mendhi normally takes place during the Sangeet night, a day before the wedding. The mehndi is not only for the bride, although the brides mehndi will be the most elaborate in design as well as the amount. The bride would have the mehndi on the most part of her feet, sometimes from her feet to her calves and from her forearms down to the tips of her fingers.
It is an old wives tale that the darker the brides mehndi the more her mother-in-law will love her. Therefore, most brides will keep their mehndi on overnight and sleep with the mehndi throughout the night. To keep the mehndi for cracking a mixture of lemon juice and sugar is applied until the mehndi is washed off.
Both in the Sikh and Hindu wedding, Mehndi is enjoyed by everyone of all ages, mainly women. It is another excuse for close family members and friends to get together and be part of the wedding ritual.
Both the Sikh and Hindu weddings can now take place at a community hall, a hall in a hotel or a banqueting hall to name but, a few. More and more couples are moving away from the traditional venues of getting married at their respective place of worship. However, having said that, a place of worship can and will be set up at their chosen venue.
In both Sikh and the Hindu wedding the couples actually go around four times before they are classed officially as a married couple. The difference being in the Sikh it will take place around the Guru Granth Sahib and in the Hindu, it will be around the Havan.
Brides, regardless of Sikh or Hindu would more commonly opt for their wedding attire to be in various shades of reds and pinks. Although brides these days do have an extensive range of not only colors but, also types of material to choose from. Wedding attires will be elaborately decorated. In both cases/religions the brides and guests do not wear black or pure white outfits.