Mick and Karen’s Sikh wedding in Fresno, CA, was overflowing with excitement and joyous traditions. The photographs in the previous post show their traditional wedding mehndi(henna). The day after mehndi was applied, each family performed the Vatna, Maiyaan, and Sangeet, followed by the Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding ceremony).
The vatna is a traditional ritual where a yellow turmeric paste is rubbed on to the bride and groom’s face, arms, and legs. The turmeric, flour, and mustard oil paste is applied to make the skin look radiant for the wedding. In essence, it’s the same as going to a spa before the wedding. Prior to the vatna, the bride/groom’s aunts, cousins, and sisters created a beautiful design, called a rangoli, using multi-colored sand. The rangoli laid at the feet of the bride and groom as family members applied the vatna (turmeric paste). The pictures below show Mick and Karen’s rangoli as well as family members applying the vatna.
The multi-colored sand drawing is called a Rangoli. It is created at the feet of the bride where it will remain until the Vatna is completed. Afterwards, it wil be swept by the bride's mother.
Everybody in the family takes turns applying the vatna onto Karen's skin.
Sangeet | Maiyaan
The sangeet/maiyaan was a time of dancing, singing, celebration, and delicious food. Karen’s sangeet and maiyaan was held at her home, whereas Mick’s family held it in a banquet hall. (Traditionally, the groom’s family would do this at their own house, but considering Mick’s house is in Seattle and the wedding was in Fresno, it would have been a long commute )
To begin the evening of dancing and celebration, the maternal side of each family brought out the jaggo. The jaggo is a lit lantern held on top of the ladies’ heads. In India, the ladies will dance through the village with this jaggo (lit lantern) to let everyone know about the wedding. Karen’s family actually walked through the neighborhood, singing, dancing, and carrying the jaggo! How awesome is that?!!!! So much fun!
The jaggo (lit-lantern) can be seen above. Some people choose to use candles, others use lights. I love that Karen's family followed the tradition of walking through the neighborhood. It was awesome to see them walking in the streets, dancing and carrying the jaggo. The jaggo was passed from one lady to the next as they walked.
The Wedding Day
The wedding day began with Mick and Karen getting ready. Karen wore a beautiful red Anarkali lehenga along with a beautiful necklace and earrings. Her outfit perfectly complimented Mick, who wore a traditional sherwani and red turban. You’ll notice a plume of white feathers on his turban. This is called a kalgi, which was put onto his turban by his sister, Kim, and cousins. Mick wore it until he entered the Gurdwara, at which time Kim removed it from the turban.
Kim is putting the Kalgi (white plume of feathers) onto Mick's turban. One Mick enters the prayer hall in the temple, Kim will remove it.
Bharaat | Milni
After Karen finished getting ready, her family took her to the Gurdwara (temple) where they waited for Mick’s family to arrive. The groom is accompanied by his family and friends as they travel to the temple. This is called the baraat. Mick carried a ceremonial sword and arrived on a white horse. It was an amazing sight- full of smiles, laughing, and positive energy as Mick’s wedding party danced to the sounds of a beating and rhythmic dhol. Traditionally, the groom is accompanied by a young nephew or cousin, who also wears similar clothing as the groom. He is called the “shabbala” or caretaker of the groom. You can see him in the pictures of Mick’s baraat.
The Baraat began at the hotel. Here, Mick's family led him to the car, where him and his mom drove to a location near the temple. Once they reached that location, Mick got onto a white horse, and his entire family, friends and wedding party followed him to the Gurdwara. Meanwhile, Karen's family was waiting at the Gurdwara to receive and welcome Mick's family.
Mick and his Shabbala rode the white horse to the Gurdwara. They were surrounded by their family, who danced in the streets. In this picture, you can see Mick's sister, Kim.
The baraat walked down the street, laughing, dancing, and singing as they made their way to the temple.
The baraat danced to the sound of the Dhol. The Dhol is a tradition Indian (Punjabi) drum used for dancing and celebrations. The sound is very loud and carries a strong upbeat, fast tempo. It's impossible not to dance when you hear the dhol. The gentleman playing this dhol is one of the best I've ever heard. He was very, VERY good.
Upon reaching the temple, Mick’s family was greeted by Karen’s family and the priest, who said a prayer of blessing (Ardaas). The milni is a formal meeting of both families. The fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and cousins exchanged fresh flower garlands. This is a happy occasion where the families are excited to meet each other. Sometimes, in India, it was here that some family members met for the first time. Once the garlands have been exchanged, the brides family offers sweets to the groom’s family as a welcoming and blessing.
Anand Karaj | Blissful Union (Sikh Wedding ceremony)
The Sikh wedding ceremony is called the Anand Karaj which is directly translated as “blissful union.” The ceremony began with the singing of hymns. Mick entered the prayer hall with his family and sat with the congregation. Before Karen’s arrival, Mick moved to sit in front of the Granth Sahib (Sikh holy book), and at that time his sister, Kim, removed the kalgi from his turban. Karen entered the prayer hall with her father, brother, mother, and cousins. After she took a seat next to Mick, the formal wedding ceremony began. The priest said a prayer, followed by a hymn, and then the lavaan. During the lavaan, the bride and groom walk around the Granth Sahib four times. Each round has a special meaning of commitment and spiritual awareness. After this, to conclude the ceremony, the entire congregation stoodd for a special prayer of blessing.
I hope you enjoy these photographs of Mick and Karen’s Anand Karaj. I had so much fun during their wedding and wish them both a blessed life of happiness.
Mick entering the prayer hall of the Gurdwara
Kim removing the kalgi from Mick's turban
Karen entered the prayer hall with her uncle and brother. After she entered, the priest said a prayer to bless the families
Mick and Karen’s Wedding Reception
This is one of my longer blog posts and although it contains many pictures, my intention is to convey the feelings, customs, colors, and traditions of an Indian Sikh wedding. I plan to elaborate on these descriptions so when guests attend a Sikh wedding, they can appreciate and understand the culture behind the ceremonies. Because Mick and Karen did such a wonderful job of incorporating these traditions into their wedding, I’m so happy the use these photos as a visual guide to Sikh Wedding festivities. If you have any questions about a Sikh wedding, please leave a comment below!
Thanks Mick and Karen, and a huge thanks to my brother, Tanvir, for helping me shoot this wedding (and every other wedding)! I love having him on the team!
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