What are some intercultural wedding options?

Intercultural Wedding Question:

My fiance and I are planning an intercultural wedding (Punjabi and Traditional Western). We are searching for a neutral ceremony location in order to combine both cultures in our wedding ceremony. Will most Sikh priests come to a ceremony and give blessings/prayers? I would love to have a Sikh priest give blessings, but I don’t know if they would do this outside of Gurdwara.

Any more suggestions regarding incorporating Sikh wedding ceremony traditions with Western ceremony traditions are more than welcome! – Pamela

Auntyji’s Answer:

Pamelaji,

First of all, congratulations to you and your fiancé on your upcoming wedding! Intercultural weddings are fun.

It is quite common for Sikh religious services to be performed outside of the gurdwara. For example, many families host prayer services, like Akhand Paaths in their homes and have a granthi come to their home to recite the prayers from the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Book).

Therefore, if you are looking to have the Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding ceremony) performed outside of the gurdwara, that is certainly doable. After all, that is how it has been done back home for generations. As long as proper respect is shown for the Guru Granth Sahib, (i.e. no shoes worn, heads are covered) while it is present, a granthi should be willing to come to almost any venue. You will need to consult with your local gurdwara(s).

If, however, you are simply looking for someone to perform Aardas (Sikh prayer) at either the beginning or end of the ceremony, that can certainly be arranged. In the rare event that you are unable to get a granthi to agree to this request, remember that anyone who knows the Aardas well can recite it. Sikhism does not prescribe to a hierarchy of religious designations, but rather draws on learned people who have the skills to do the task.

One tradition you may consider incorporating into your fusion wedding is the palla ceremony. If you plan to recite vows as is the western tradition, perhaps you can ask you fiancé to wear a scarf that your father can hand to you before the vow reciting begins. You then hold the palla through the reciting of your vows and the remainder of the ceremony.

Don’t forget you can also incorporate Punjabi traditions into your pre-wedding functions. For example if wish to do a maiyan ceremony, you may chose to do all or part at your house for both you and your fiancé. Some families have done maiyan ceremonies where the fiancé’s (from a western background) maiyan were done at the bride-to-be’s home immediately after her’s were performed. His family was coached through the entire process.

One tradition I definitely encourage you to include before the wedding is the mehndi party. You can invite your family and friends and hire a henna artist to apply mehndi to your hands. If you don’t want an elaborate design, as it may not suit your wedding day outfit, you can always have the mehndi applied only to the inside of your hands where it will be less obvious. Make it a girl’s night or better yet invite your family and his to enjoy this colourful occasion with good food and dancing!

Aapke,

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