Taking into consideration that Sikh culture is extremely traditional and spiritual; their weddings are considered a highly sacred event for all the participants. Besides representing the beginning of a new life together for the happy couple, traditional ceremonies, known as Anand Karaj, are rather a union of the spirit. If you were to translate this Punjabi expression, its meaning is similar to “sublime affair” or “blissful reunion”, since the bride and the groom are about to start their spiritual journey as husband and wife. In addition to bringing these two people together, the wedding is also a gathering for the two families, which strive to become one once the event is over. Given the huge emotional signification of the ceremony, all those who attend such a wedding need to be aware of what is about to happen. At a Sikh wedding, the entire atmosphere is dominated by peace, mystic music and religious traditions, so you need to be ready for the ultimate spiritual experience.
In order to mark the event, the traditional ceremony lasts longer than one day, as it is the habit for other cultures. To understand better how important a Sikh wedding actually is, you need to know that all the preparations are done by both families, within weeks before the event. This is also related to the spiritual side, because there are so many traditions to follow and things to do. As same as with any other wedding, preparations include choosing the best venue, picking the right music and decorations, and last but not least – hiring the priests who will officiate at the ceremony. This is maybe the most important thing to do, because the priests are the ones who can really make all the participants feel the power and importance of the Anand Karaj. Destination Sikh weddings are performed in countries all over the world and most of the times; the ceremonies respect the same pattern. There is a Sikhism code of conduct, according to which the priests officiate at the event. Generally, the ceremony takes place in a Gurdwara temple, where all the guests need to cover their heads, particularly women, who also have to cover their arms and shoulders. Participants need to take off their shoes, in order to connect better to the ground and release their spiritual side. Furthermore, if there is one element that will not miss from any traditional wedding, that is the Laav, a series of four hymns that represent the stages a person needs to go through in order to reach its spiritual potential (inner peace and deep self- understanding).
As you can see, there are plenty of Sikh traditions to be followed during the Anand Karaj, but the most important thing is that all the guests allow their spirit to guide them. Remember that the officiating priests play an important role, since they are in charge with creating the sacred atmosphere. For this reason, they should have some experience and be able to officiate in more than one language, so that the message can reach all the participants.