Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Punjabi Sikh wedding in England

Well, we just got back from London last night with my daughter and son. I wished wife and the youngest one could have come as well, but it did not work out that way. It was great to see so many old and new faces at the wedding; people I had not seen for over 15 to 25 years and their sons, daughters etc. that I had never met. The guy who got married was a son of my cousin (meri bhua da pota) and was around six years old, when I saw him last in India. The wedding itself was a lot of fun with a people telling a lot of jokes, political discussions, bhangra, games with movie songs, shabads etc. Sadly, my cousin and other women of the house ended up having to do a lot of work as some of us men sit around and try to solve world’s problems. Some of us did help out but not as many as I would have thought. Its funny, during my childhood growing up in Punjab, I used to see more men helping out during weddings such as cutting vegetables, cooking jalebis and laddoos. I remember my taya cutting onins, carrots, gobhi, making jalebis, rolling boondis, karah parshad and helping out in Kitchen in almost every wedding. He could have made a great halwayee. Somehow it seems like it is slowly fading and more and more is left for women to do. But, Punjabi weddings sure are a lot of fun and would love to attend one again. I wish the amount of alcohol could be cut down. But, it was really nice to be on the other side and watch some people acting goofy, and emotional after drinking so much. The Anand Karaj at Gurdwara was nice and granthi did say some really nice things and explained the importance of Anand Karaj and lavan according to Gurmat. I am saying this because I went to a wedding of one of my friends who got married to a causaian girl, the granthi started preaching how wrong it is to marry outside of culture during the Anand Karaj ceremony which in my opinion was the most inappropriate thing to say as part of Guru's blessing. Here there was no such controversy. The shagan afterwards where people bless the couple and place money in couple's lap created a little controversy though since there were different opinions as to whether it was apporpriate to do it in front of the Guru Granth Saheb.

For me, the nice part of my trip was to see my 94 year old aunt (bhua) who is an amazing lady when it comes to being a full of energy, enthusiasm, discipline, hard work, loving and caring. She was the same as I remembered her from my childhood in India, always full of energy and in chardi kala. Here is the part that amazed me the most, inspite of not being able to see so clearly and having a weak eyesight, she starts her day by waking up at 4AM every morning, takes the morning bath, does the Guru parkash and recites Jap Ji Saheb by heart and reads the wak from Guru Granth Sahib. She can climb upstairs without any help or walking stick. Since I don’t have Guru Granth Saheb installed at my house, it was quite an experience to learn from her. Sometimes, I wish I knew Jap Ji Saheb and other banis by heart. I have heard all kinds of negative things about Gurbani recitation without understanding, but I have to say, to hear this 94 year old lady recite entire Jap Ji Saheb by heart was the most beautiful thing I had ever witnessed. It just showed the love and effort somebody has put into being a Gursikh. I so much wish and pray to be like her if I ever get to be that old.

The city of London itself is beautiful, but very expensive. We had bought a three day London Pass that is only available to tourists outside of England. Pass allowed us to explore various things like history, culture, transit system and our hosts took us to see Stonehenge which was a nice drive thru beautiful English countryside. It was also nice to see a big visible Punjabi community and more turbaned Sikhs working in all kinds of jobs from construction sites on highways (or motorways as they are called in England), at airport security, immigration and escort services, malls, restaurants, even doing ice skating and other things. To me, these guys make the true role models for future generations of Khalsa to come. Having just a basic cable here in the U.S. for the last 20 years, I was also shocked to see all these Punjabi channels thru sattelite dish that play non stop bhangra videos, bollywood soap opera, Indian news all day long including gurbani from Darbar Sahib. I have some opinions on some of these bhangra videos but that is a topic for another post. Overall, it was really a fun trip.

Pictures - coming soon!

Also, here is some really good information on Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding) and its real meaning to Sikhs if anyone is interested:



Blogger AK said...

enjoyed reading this entry. Your aunt indeed is a very amazing woman.

9:40 AM, April 12, 2006  
Blogger Prabhu Singh said...

Sounds like a nice trip. I bet it was a pretty big production!
I found the following disturbing:
"the granthi started preaching how wrong it is to marry outside of culture"
What does culture have to do with being a Sikh and furthermore, how can this person consider himself a granthi and teach discrimination?
Marrying outside of culture is fine.
Making a mockery of the Guru is not!
Some people have argued with me, because I take a hard line with anand karaj. I honestly believe that the anand karaj is a marriage to the Guru. If you cannot understand that you are making a lifetime committment to your spouse and to the Guru, there should be some other ceremony. To me it is a mockery to put a turban on for the first time in your life, and circle around our master Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj and then for the rest of your life forget in whose company you were married. To me it seems if you can't commit yourself to the Guru, who loves the rehit, than please marry somewhere else. Invent your own ceremony that reflects your true beliefs.
Marrying in front of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib is not a "Punjabi" wedding. It is a Sikh wedding, a commitment made between master and student. It's one of two sacred ceremonies that Sikhs have: anand karaj, and amrit sanchar. If a granthi is going to lecture during an anand karaj, the lecture should not be about it being wrong to marry outside of culture (that's just stupid), it should be about what it truly means to make a lifetime committment in front of the Sikh Guru.
Of course my hardline approach only means something if I'm ever the granthi of a Gurdwara. Until then I know there are many Gurdwaray where any body can get married.
Sorry for going off topic. Your aunt does seem quite inspiring. I was just talking to my brother this morning about Balwinder's Grandma and his great uncle, who could probably have taught me a lot if I knew Punjabi.

11:48 AM, April 12, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

LOL! Yes, it was a big production Prabhu Singh Ji. Personally, I prefer smaller and simpler weddings with less than 50-70 guests. This is about how many were during my wedding. I have heard of weddings with 200-300 guests, which seems like a lot of people. How can a poor or even an average person afford to pay for all these people's needs.

About learning Punjabi, I am currently trying to teach my kids 20-30 minutes every weekend myself. It is really not that hard to learn. We are talking about just 35-50 symbols and letters that need to be remembered. Rest is vocabulary building which will come with time.

9:28 AM, April 13, 2006  
Blogger Sikhi Seeker said...

"Sadly, my cousin and other women of the house ended up having to do a lot of work as some of us men sit around and try to solve world’s problems."
Yeah, men consider themselves responsible for taking care of "bigger" problems than doing the overwhelming chores demanded at the moment..lol. Good point! But luckily, men in my family still make their big plans while doing the cooking and other stuff around the house, especially during such celebritive ocassions..hehe

Granthi ji of that Gurudwara definitely did the most rude and wrong thing possible. It's shameful. But oh well, it's hard to get to "choose" who'll bind you in such blissful bound. You can only wish for someone wise and kind and truly Sikh even in his/her mentality.

May Waheguru keep your aunt in Chardi Kala always. I think being healthy and trying to stay so forever, is a great gift we can give to ourselves. No wonder Waheguru emphasize on health.

About reciting it orally - I love it! I can recite Japuji Sahib and Chaupai Sahib by heart, and I feel it easier to concentrate through this path more than others, where i'm trying to read. I wish I could learn Sukhmani Sahib as well. That'd be awesome! As for learning any path by heart, (considering i'm the world's worst candidate for memorization), I think how it happened for me was through recital daily. Eventually, you'll not even know, when you know it all by heart :)

Good luck :D with your path learning and the wonderful scheme of teaching your kids Punjabi.

Glad to know you had a fun trip!

1:05 PM, April 13, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

"But luckily, men in my family still make their big plans while doing the cooking and other stuff around the house, especially during such celebritive ocassions"

Thank you for the reminder! I forgot about multitasking.

ak - thank you! She is sweet!

7:39 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger AK said...

Sikhrus ji,
Next time you in this situation ( Sadly, my cousin and other women of the house ended up having to do a lot of work as some of us men sit around and try to solve world’s problems.")
You can tell these men that we better help women. Somebody has to initiate it. I usually go and sit with men and try to solve world's problems.

10:49 AM, April 14, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

I just remembered this old couple on TV that was being interviewed. The husband says to the reporter "I always make all the big decisions in the family". The reporter asks, what kind of decsions has he made? He replies "So far I have made none". That is how we men solve world's big problems. I did ask my cousin numerous times to use my help. I did help out by doing kids and my own laundry, making chah, making beds, fixing bathroom leakage, passing out food, water etc. and taking dishes to sink. Kids helped as well setting up tables, cutting veggies etc.

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