Interfaith Sikh Marriages vs “normal” Sikh Marriages
I didn’t expect my first post to be so controversial – but hey ho here I am.
Posted on August 8, 2015 by Anonymous Kaur posted on Anonymous Kaur’s Blog
In the last few years – especially in the UK – there has been an upsurge in stopping interfaith marriages. We all have our opinions, suggestions and ideas about the legitimacy of interfaith marriages, whether those beliefs stem from Sikhism or Indian culture. One thing is clear – Amritdharis should be the only individuals permitted to have an Anand Karaj.
This post will touch on the following topics:
- Who is a Sikh and Non-Sikh?
- What is an Anand Karaj?
- Why can a Sikh only marry a Sikh?
- Beadbi of Sikh Marriages (where both partners are Sikh)
Lets breakdown it down into two simple questions:
Are interfaith marriages permissible in Sikhi?
Do Gurdwara continue to carry out interfaith marriages despite Rehat Maryada?
Before getting into the nitty gritty lets define a few words in Sikhi:
Who is a Sikh?
Article 1 of the Rehat Maryada defines a Sikh as any human being [emphasis on ANY] who faithfully believes in
- One Immortal Being
- Ten Gurus, from Guru Nanak Dev Ji to Guru Gobind Singh Ji
- The Guru Granth Sahib Ji
- The utterances and teachings of the ten Gurus
- The baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru, and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion, is a Sikh.
Therefore, just because you are brown and born in a Sikh household with a Sikh last name such as “Sandhu”, “Panesar” or “Kainth” does not entitle you to call yourself a Sikh. A Sikh is someone who follows the path of Sikhi through Gurus hukam with an explicit ambition to unite with the Husband Lord. I think this is a serious misconception within our society – just because I have XXXXXX in my name doesn’t mean I am a Sikh. As per the teaching of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji any human being of any colour, gender, caste and creed is welcomed into Sikhi – we are all equal.
Who is a Non-Sikh?
Generally a Non-Sikh is someone who does not faithfully follow the teachings of our Gurus and Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj. Once again, a Non- Sikh in my opinion can also be brown and from a Sikh household with Singh or Kaur in their name. Sikhi is not just a box you tick on a form to identify your religion – Sikhi is a way of life. Every person has his or her own responsibility to be One with Akaal Purakh.
What is an Anand Karaj?
In simple terms an Anand Karaj is a Sikh marriage ceremony. In terms of significance we differ vastly from other faiths. Sri Guru Ramdas Ji, the fourth Guru, composed the Laava to celebrate a holy union between the human soul (Atma) and Akaal Purakh (Parmatma). One misconception, stemming from Western Culture, is the idea that Sikhs only get married to maintain a relationship and build a family. Indeed, this is a primary reason any human being gets married but our Guru has also highlighted a higher purpose. Thereby, Anand Karaj satisfies two commitments:
- Firstly, as women (remember we are all women including you men!) Anand Karaj is a blissful union where both partners connect with their Husband Lord (ek jyot doay moorti)
- And, secondly to live a life of Grist Jeevan or Dam- Pati Jeevan
I’ve placed both bullet points strategically – Maharaj and your duty towards our Gurus is first. Thereby, work on your relationship with Akaal Purakh before you begin another relationship – unfortunately, this is not the case in 21st Century Sikhs – hence we have this concept of interfaith marriages. If we wanted to work on our own relationship with Maharaj we would only marry within our faith, to ensure our future generations followed the same path. Remember, the family unit is a central part to preserving any religion – whatever you teach or show your children will be akin to their character and habits. Thereby, if you drink – they will eventually drink, if you keep your hair – they will look to you to keep theirs.
Why can a Sikh only marry a Sikh?
Sikh Rehat Maryada – Section 4 states the following:
- A Sikh man and woman should enter wedlock without giving thought to the prospective spouse’s caste and descent.
- A Sikh’s daughter must be married to a Sikh.
- A Sikh’s marriage should be solemnized by Anand marriage rites.
Sikhis stance on Anand Karaj is pretty clear – there are no ifs or buts or Guru ji intended this and that – we do not know the intention of Maharaj – we are not antarjamee so it is better for our souls to look towards Gurbani. My opinion is pretty clear, partake in an Anand Karaj if Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the centre of your life.
When you partake in an Anand Karaj you bow your head to Maharaj and take a vow to your Guru Sahib. However, if you do not faithfully believe in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji Maharaj – then whom are bowing to and what promise are you making? What exactly are your intentions? Most of the time it is to please the other side and show to everyone “Look, I am a Sikh and to prove it I will get married in the Gurdwara”. If you do decide to have an interfaith marriage then I truly hope Maharaj blesses you and your partner in your blissful union. Take the advice of your elders and go to the Gurdwara, take a Hukamnama and perform a Sukhmani Sahib. I am not against any religion or culture but I am an avid believer in my religion and Gurus teachings. I can understand why individuals in the Panth do not believe in these marriages and consider them sham – truthfully, there do not coincide with the goal of Sikhi – which is to unite you with your Husband Lord.
However, this does not give certain individuals the right to then attack these people and their beliefs in a physical, emotional or verbal manner. Regardless of whom you marry – your jeevan should be only to jaap naam. Instead of pointing the finger we should focus on our own Rehat.
Problems with Sikh-and-Sikh marriages
As stated earlier my humble opinion is only Amritdharis should be allowed to have an Anand Karaj – therefore if you are not blessed with Amrit (Khandey de Pahul) you should not be blessed with the Anand Karaj rites. We are all so concerned with a minority of our brothers and sisters conducting interfaith marriages but what about the Rehat Maryada we should follow ourselves?
Many ‘Sikhs’ partake in the Anand Karaj ceremony hung over from their pre-wedding parties or think it is appropriate to have a peg or two before the big step?
Where are the Singhs who so gallantly protest outside the Gurdwara to stop ‘Sikhs’ getting married to Non-Sikhs?
Many individuals these days dress up to imitate the Amrtidhari Sikhs by carrying a Kirpan and wearing a Daastar but do not wait more than two hours to take of their crown, shave their beards and enter a reception hall full of meat, alcohol and music. Where are the Singhs who so gallantly protest outside the Gurdwara to stop ‘Sikhs’ getting married to Non-Sikhs?
Many families continue to give high consideration to the spouse’s caste and descent. Where are the Singhs who so gallantly protest outside the Gurdwara to stop ‘Sikhs’ getting married to Non-Sikhs?
Why don’t these Singhs sort out the cultural issues within Sikhi; why don’t they abolish caste based Gurdwara? Why don’t they stop our brothers and sisters entering Sheeshi bars and clubs? Why don’t they cause the same ruckus when they see a brother or a sister with a pint in their hands? I can understand why the Youth are confused and not able to digest the truth of interfaith marriages when Sikh marriages themselves ignore the principles laid down by Maharaj. This is hypocrisy at its finest.
Bhul Chuk Marf – I am sorry if I stepped on any cultural toes.
‘Everyone makes mistakes; only the Guru and the Creator are infallible’ Ang 61.
By: Gupt Kaur on Anonymous Kaur Blog