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All the Sikh ceremonies like birth, baptism, marriage and death are held in simple, inexpensive and religious tone. Every important ceremony is performed in the presence of holy Guru Granth Sahib. Of course, singing of hymns, Ardas, or a formal prayer suitable to the occasion, Hukamnama, or a random reading from the Guru Granth Sahib will be included as the order of the day. Distribution of Karah Parshad, or sacred pudding made from flour, butter, sugar and water, Langar is provided for all the guests. Sikhs no longer seek blessing from god and renew the spirit of devotion and service.
There are some of the major Sikh Ceremonies, Naam Karan (Naming Ceremony), Dastar Bandi, Marriage Ceremony, Amrit Sanchar (Baptism), Funeral/Death Ceremony, Gurpurbs and Sangrand.
KhandaAfter the birth of a child, if the mother and the child are in good health, they will go to the Gurdwara with their relatives and friends for the naming ceremony. The Granthi or a senior member of the congregation stirs water and sugar crystals in a bowl with a 'Khanda' placed in front of the Guru Granth Sahib while reading the 'Mool Mantra' (the basic belief of the Sikhs and it begins the Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and the first five verses of the 'Japji Sahib'. A few drops of this holy water are then put into the child's mouth and the remaining is given to the mother to drink. Hymns are recited or sun to bless the child.
This is a very important event when a Sikh boy is ready to start tying the turban. The Granthi will explain why the turban is needed to be tied on the head.
Amrit Sanchar (Baptism)
Baptism and marriage are the most important ceremonies in the life of a Sikh. It is in the form of a formal oath and initiation ceremony by which a Sikh becomes a true Khalsa (purified or chosen one), and like the Christian at confirmation, acquires full membership of the Sikh brotherhood. As the ceremony culminates in the drinking of Amrit (specially prepared sweet Holy water) so the term 'Amrit-dhari Sikh' is often used. However, a Sikh should only take Amrit when he or she is mature enough to realize the nature of the obligations he or she has chosen to accept.
The Sikh marriage is called 'Anand Karaj' which means the ceremony of joy. The Sikh wedding is held in the morning in a Gurdwara. The bridegroom will be dressed in fine clothes and accompanied by his family and friends. Then he reaches the Gurdwara Sahib where the bride's relatives and friends receive them. After the Milni ceremony (close relatives of the couple garland each other in a spirit of goodwill) and refreshments, everyone enters the Gurdwara congregation hall where bride sits alongside the bridegroom facing the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. A short prayer is said and then the wedding ceremony begins and the Ragees sing the hymn of 'Palla' which is bridegroom's scarf. The bride's father gives the Palla into the hands of bride which is symbolic of giving away the bride. This is followed by 'Lavaan', the wedding ceremony. It consists of four verses. The first verse is recited by the Granthi while the couple sits. Then the Ragees sing the same verse and the couple walk gracefully clockwise around the Guru Granth Sahib the bride following the bridegroom. Same way the other three verses are recited. The six verses of 'Anand Sahib' (the hymns of joy) are then sung followed by the Ardas. Order of the day is read from Guru Granth Sahib Ji followed by the distribution of Karah Parshad. Lunch is provided by the bride's family. Usually a reception is held later in the evening in a hall.
Usually, this ceremony is very simple. When a Sikh dies, the body is first washed and dressed with new clothes. Then it is carried to the cremation ground in procession then appropriate prayers are said before the funeral pyre. After that, it is lit by close relatives. In Britain a crematorium built for this purpose is used. Later, the cooled ashes will be collected and immersed into or presented to natural running water- a river.
To complete the ceremony, then either in the home or in the Gurdwara, the daily reading of the Holy Granth begins. This takes about ten days. When all the 1430 pages have been read, the final service is held. Relatives and friends gather to join in the final prayers. The Kara Parshad (holy food) is served and the people disperse. This marks the end of mourning.
The Sikh Marriage
The Sikh marriage is not merely a physical and legal contract but is a holy union between two souls where physically they appear as two individual bodies but in fact are united as one. The Sikh marriage ceremony is also known as Anand Karaj meaning 'blissful union'.
According to Sikhism, when a girl attains maturity, it is incumbent upon her parents to look for a suitable match for her. It is neither desirable nor proper to marry a girl at tender age. The daughter of a Sikh should be given in marriage to a Sikh. If a man is a Sikh believer, is humble by nature, and earns his bread by honest means, with him matrimony may be contracted without a question and without consideration for wealth and riches.
Sikh marriages are usually arranged. The people from other cultures do not always properly interpret the word 'arranged'. An arranged marriage does not mean forcing man or woman into wedlock of parents' choice only. It is agreeing to marriage proposed by mutual discussion between the man's and the woman's family. This is to select the right partner with the approval of all. Most importantly, the man and woman themselves must get to know each other to convey their consent to their parents.
No Sikh marriage is regarded as truly complete unless the bride and groom present themselves before the Holy Granth and are blessed by the Guru, as well as by the congregation or the families present.