My Sikh colleague recently asked me what I thought of her Brahmin boyfriend. I didn’t have much to say, so I promised to offer my advice after researching whether a Brahmin boy can marry a Sikh girl. What I found out was mind-blowing!
Can a Brahmin boy marry a Sikh girl? Yes, he can. Brahmin is a Varna (loosely translated to class) in Hinduism. They are, in many cases, teachers or priests. Notably, intermarriage between Brahmins and Sikhs are not uncommon. Note, though, that Sikhs cannot marry or get marriage from other religions. The non-Sikh partner must first convert to Sikhism.
Not all Brahmin-Sikh relationships end up in marriage unless the parties involved take active steps to ensure their relationship succeeds. Conversion to Sikhism is an excellent example of a sacrifice one must take. Like you are about to find out, though, other factors are involved apart from just conversion to Sikhism.
Can a Brahmin Boy Marry a Sikh Girl?
The short answer is yes. But like already hinted, you must first convert to Sikhism before marrying or getting married to a Sikh. That’s because Sikhs believe that the Guru Granth Sahib doesn’t recognize marriage between Sikhs and non-Sikhs.
Although there have been many instances where Sikhs and non-Sikhs have married, such unions get frowned upon. The repercussions are sometimes as dire as ex-communication. Your only saving grace is to convert.
History of Brahmin- Sikh Intermarriages
Historically, Sikhs and Brahmins have been culturally and socially intertwined. In fact, most of the significant Sikh beliefs like reincarnation, karma, guru, and moksha are borrowed from Brahmin Hinduism. It is also important to note that Sikhs share Hindu festivals like Holi, Rakhi, and Sankrant, and Diwali.
Then there’s the fact that Hindus submit to the first Sikh guru, Nanak, who was born of Hindu parents. Sikhs also laud the last guru Govind Singh who they consider a hero because he fought against certain Muslim sultans.
Until very recently, the eldest son in nearly all Hindu families in Punjab would automatically become a baptized Sikh. Images of Sikh gurus features in cars and walls of many Hindu offices and homes along with other Hindu deities.
It is not uncommon to find Brahmins in Sikh temples celebrating and attending prayer meetings, and vice versa. Note, though, that Sikh gurus vehemently oppose the rigid Brahmin Hindu caste system despite all these similarities and shared beliefs.
It is because of the abovementioned beliefs that Brahmin Hindus and Sikhs freely intermingle and even marry. However, this intermingling is discouraged by many modern Sikh leaders who claim it undermines Sikhism’s distinctness and political cause.
Modern Day Brahmin – Sikh Marriages
Sikhs don’t intermarry with non-Sikhs for one simple reason. They believe that for one to marry a non-Sikh, the non-Sikh must first denounce their religion. They must then convert to Sikhism and observe the Sikh way of life. This means submitting to the Guru Granth Sahib and following what it says to the last word.
So, what happens where one doesn’t convert to Sikhism for purposes of marrying a Sikh? The answer here is somewhat straightforward. The marriage can’t proceed. That solely boils down to the fact that there’s no union of souls in the marriage. This sounds like a strange doctrine, but it is the gist and substratum of what holds all Sikh marriages.
According to Sikhism, the two souls of a couple unite to become one when they marry. The union only happens after both parties profess Sikhism. They must then submit that they will, throughout their lives, live according to the dictates of the Guru Granth Sahib. Only then will the marriage receive blessings.
Weddings In Gurdwaras
A strict interpretation of what the Guru Granth Sahib dictates seems to fade in the Western world where Hindus and Sikhs freely intermarry. Additionally, Sikh weddings seem to go on outside Gurdwaras and other designated places. This boils down to modernism and the fact that many young couples today are not as kin on religion as their parents are.
Interestingly, some gurdwaras, especially in the UK, allow weddings between Sikhs and non-Sikhs. In 2014, the UK Sikh Council developed a consistent approach towards marriage ceremonies in Gurdwaras, where one partner is not a Sikh. This came as a result of a two-year extensive consultation with the Gurdwara Sahib Committees for Sikhs living in the UK.
The General Assembly of the Sikh Council UK approved the guidelines on October 11th, 2014. Notably, the General Assembly of the Sikh Council insisted and still insists to this day that Gurdwaras must ensure both parties to an Anand Karaj wedding ceremony and Sikhs. A couple chooses to marry under civil laws. They have a right to be offered an opportunity to hold Akhand Path, Ardas, Sukhmani Sahib Path, or other services to celebrate their marriage with their friends and family.
Brahmin Hindus pay dowry while Sikhs don’t. This often creates a gray area during wedding ceremonies. The general consensus, though, in India, is that it all boils down to what the couple chooses or what they prefer. Either way, Sikhs don’t pay dowry. This has everything to do with the fact that they consider dowry as a form of extortion. To them, paying dowry reduces a marriage ceremony to a commercial transaction.
Divorce and Remarrying
Just like dowry, divorce is a foreign concept in Sikhism. As already stated, each individual is born with a Sanjog, which loosely translates to ‘Destiny.’ Sikhs believe that the Sanjog is written on each person’s forehead once they are born. The Sanjog carries all key elements and factors of one’s life on the planet, including marriage. Your Sanjog ‘knows’ who you will marry, and you can and must only marry that person.
It is also worth noting that the Sanjog dictates each person can only have a soul mate. That explains why the concept of polygamy is alien in Sikhism. Widows and widowers can’t also remarry.
The Rehat Maryada on Marriage
It is the official Sikh Code of Conduct. It recognizes the fact that the human race is diverse in terms of race and religion. It then states that no particular thought should be given to race, lineage, and caste despite the diversity. This is especially the case where two people profess Sikhism.
The provisions of the Rehat Maryada seem to differ from core beliefs of the Brahmin Hindu religion. For instance, there’s the case issue, which makes it impossible for individuals from some specific castes to marry.
This often creates a rift between Brahmin Hindus and Sikhs. Note, though, that is not why Sikhs insist on conversion to Sikhism before marrying. Their insistence has everything to do with submitting to the Guru Granth Sahib, as already mentioned.
Going Against The Norm
Amritdhari Sikhs usually conduct Sikh marriage weddings. They are more or less like priests who have devoted their lives to Sikhism. Many of them cannot officiate the marriage between Sikhs and non-Sikhs for reasons stated above. There are, however, many Amritdhari Sikhs who go against the norm, especially in the Western world, and officiate weddings where one party is a non-Sikh.
Devout Sikhs consider this as an act of ‘betrayal.’ Notably, such marriages don’t ever get the recognition that marriages where partners strictly profess the Sikh faith do.
Marriage is a complex issue. It gets even more complicated where parties don’t profess the same faith. In Sikhism, such marriages cannot attain the blessings stated in the Guru Granth Sahib. It is, in fact, considered a sin for a Sikh to marry a non-Sikh. This then implies that a Brahmin boy cannot marry a Sikh girl unless he converts.
Lastly, there seems to be some form of departure from strict Sikhism in the west where Sikhs today freely intermingle and marry their non-Sikhs counterparts. It is worth noting that though such marriages may proceed as usual in the west, they are often frowned upon in India, where many Sikhs strictly follow and submit to the Guru Granth Sahib.