A couple of months or so ago, there was a minor uproar surrounding a Sikh wedding ceremony in India where the bride was asked to walk ahead of the groom for two of the four laavan. (Each laavan involves walking around the holy scriptures as shown).
The Akal Takht in India, the primary seat of Sikh religious authority, was quite angered by this breach of tradition and the people involved in the ceremony did a bit of (confusing) backtracking. One of the organizers, Baldev Singh, even wrote a letter explaining his version of the events.
He wrote that he was approached by a group of women who asked him to change the ceremony so that it would better reflect the concepts of equality that Sikhs are to abide by in their daily lives. He claimed he became “emotional” and accepted this without apparently thinking clearly.
I’m not as interested in the politics behind all of this as I am in the suddenness of the SGPC’s reaction and what ours should be. From what I’ve read the condemnation of the ceremony was based on the view that the changes were making the ceremony too much like Hindu weddings.
That reason is childish and insulting and I don’t understand why it was given. Was it to ensure that the SGPC can still say whatever the hell they want and expect people to listen? Or is this just another manifestation of the disconnect between the vast majority of Sikhs and religious conservatives? We don’t have the time or inclination to get into nitpicky religious discussions so they dominate these discussions.
I too have often wondered why the bride follows the groom through the ceremony. The laavan are very gender neutral and there is no reason why tradition should not be open to change or at least to discussion. It also means a lot of people getting married are not allowed to have a say in what their ceremony means or should mean. It’s at this point that the political blends with the personal, and also where I think the SGPC has again overstepped their bounds.
In the brief discussion that followed, good points were made about the meaning of the wedding ceremony and these points were again ignored in the rush to claim authenticity and ensure that only a certain group of people have a say in these public expressions of Sikhi, and that’s a shame.
Sunny adds: I expect that in a decade or so, Sikh weddings where the women walk ahead of the man for two of the four laavan will become much more prominent; even normal. That’s how I’d like it in my wedding. If I ever get married *cough*
This is a guest post. ‘Emma’ blogs here.
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Filed in: Religion,Sex equality