Here is a simple Guide to a Sikh Wedding Ceremony, what to do and expect.
Ladies Milni at Sikh Wedding
ATTIRE AND DURATION
Expect to sit on the floor for at least 45 mins. – 1 hr.. It is advisable to wear pants, trousers, or a dress that covers your legs. Another option is to bring a scarf or shawl to drape your legs. You may also want to bring a head covering of your choice. A clean pair of socks is recommended as you will be removing your shoes. This is a non-smoking zone.
Family and friends of both the bride and groom assemble together outside the wedding premise for the MILNI ceremony where there is a small prayer followed by relatives being introduced, and gifts exchanged.
The congregation, friends and families enter the wedding premise without shoes and heads covered, and bow at the altar. Men sit to one side of a central isle, and the woman to the other. Everyone sits on the floor cross-legged, facing the altar.
AWAITING THE WEDDING PARTY
Spiritual hymns are sung while the bride and groom enter, they may enter together or separately. Bowing before the scriptures, they sit side-by-side, facing the altar. The groom sits on the right and the bride, to his left.
The ceremony begins with the couple and their parents standing for a small prayer. The congregation remains seated while the priest offers a prayer, Ardas, for the initiation and success of the marriage. This is followed by a passage being read from the scriptures.
The bride’s father walks over to the couple and places the groom’s palla, ceremonial scarf, around the shoulder of the groom and hands one end of the scarf to the bride. The ends of the palla are held in the respective laps of the bride and groom giving the right end for the groom to hold, and the left end for the bride. The Palla Ceremony signifies that the father is giving away his daughter to the groom. The palla acts as a tether between the bride and groom, signifying their physical union, and the goal for a spiritual union of their souls with each other.
LAAVAN - THE FOUR NUPTUAL VOWS
The 4 Laavan - Nuptual Vows represent stages of awareness striving to experience a blissful married life. The hymns signify the development of love between the husband and wife, and the longing of the human soul for God.
In this ceremony, the bride and groom walk 4 times, clockwise, around the scriptures, as the hymns are sung sequentially. In essence the 4 vows signify:
- Remember your true identity and keep every action connected to your Source.
- Learn to hear the music of the Universe in every action and dissolve your separation.
- Fill your heart with the silent language of LOVE.
- Feel moments of sweet bliss and oneness of all, by unifying the mind and heart.
A hymn is sung to complete the ceremony. The congregation stands for a final prayer. After the prayer, everyone bows, and resumes their seated position. Family and friends may garnish the couple with material gifts.
Parshaad, a blessed food offering, is distributed to all, the sharing a spiritual gift.
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