By Jagdesh Singh | Opinion |
The last time I wrote about our Sikh weddings, I got into trouble stepping on someone’s toes. It was unintended but that’s the risk of writing and sharing one’s opinion in today’s age of hyper social media. I lost friends I respected at that time. So, I’ve got to be really careful here with my scar tissue still not hardened as I would’ve hoped. I’m going to share my opinion again, without having any authoritative knowledge on our Sikh religion nor our Punjabi cultural historical backgrounds. I’m going to share my opinion as an observer with no judgement whatsoever. You, the reader, are free to rubbish this opinion at your will, and we can still remain amicable friends. How does that sound?
Caveat out of the way, allow me to proceed.
Very recently, I’ve come across some loud and verbose conversations about an Anand Karaj solemnized at a local beach. My initial knee jerk reaction was mild amazement. More because I simply love the beach, and an open air gathering does seem quite prudent in these days where closed air-conditioned halls are perfect breeding grounds for viruses transmitted via droplets circulating in the air from our mouths and noses as we speak. It’s not an alien concept because Hollywood movies have been romanticizing these sort of wedding gatherings all over the western hemisphere. Why wouldn’t a young couple, having grown up with these images, aspire to have something as if it was from a romantic Hollywood movie?
Then it slowly dawns upon me. The logistical challenges to having a Sikh Anand Karaj ceremony maybe entirely different from a Christian wedding typically depicted in the movies. For one, not only would we need to worry about our loved attendees getting wet from a freak rainstorm, God forbid, but we would need to worry more about the most important guest at the wedding. The living embodiment of our Gurus, Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, is indeed the guest of honor in our Sikh tradition. This is fundamental. Our Guru is no book like the Bible, that can be held in the casual hands of the granthi or priest when solemnizing the marriage. I hold this belief in my core.
This distinction is quite often lost in translation, even amongst ourselves. Some of us still view the Adi Granth as scriptures to ponder on, even if the dos and don’ts aren’t as prescriptive as the ‘Thou-Shall-Not’s in the Bible. And some of us believe our spiritual Guru speaks to us personally, sitting on His throne in His Darbar, through the fateful and faithful process of reading out loud passages from the scriptures. Both these distinct sets of us quite often are mutually exclusive. A gray area overlap is possible however, where we can view the scriptures in the Adi Granth as an ocean of spiritual knowledge to consume with no merit demerit system of sins enforced, and as also our spiritual guide on every personal level, Who speaks to us directly in all times of need.
I’m in camp ‘Living Embodiment of our Guru’, and have always sought His blessings and Guidance personally in the many Gurudwaras that I walk into freely. This then makes me think that having our Guru at some wedding outside of the Gurudwara, like the beach with every risk of rainstorm, or close to forbidden alcohol or cigarettes within the same premises, isn’t really a good idea. You might say our Guru is all-knowing and all-powerful, above and beyond being offended or insulted by such petty thinking. I would disagree because I really believe our Guru’s sanctity must be protected and not be tarnished in any way possible. My imagination of how a real life Guru in human form, stemming from the stories I’ve heard and read from my childhood, drives how I would want to treat Him as our guest of honor. Standing by our traditions and our so called ‘protocols’ that were put in place with this imagination would make more sense to me.
I’m still attracted to the notion of celebrating a wedding at the beach. Away from the loud deafening bhangra music, for a change, would be most welcomed. Perhaps we can solemnize the marriage in the nearby Gurudwara, according to our convenience because there isn’t any shortage of Gurudwaras in our towns and cities. Then, we can move the party to the beach, free to socialize as comfortably as we would want. Win-win situation for me, in my humble opinion. Which is all there is to it, an opinion.
Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki fateh well I don’t have any opinion on the Anand Karaj at the beach. But I do wish to share my one cent view about last respects for the dead which should be done at homes, mortuaries if one lives in Condos/apartments or at Shamshan Bhumi AND NOT GURDWARAS. Frankly Gurdwaras have become bereavement centres these days.
SSA well I don’t have any opinion on the Anand Karaj at the beach. But I do wish to share my one cent view about last respects for the dead which should be done at homes, mortuaries if one lives in Condos/apartments or at Shamshan Bhumi AND NOT GURDWARAS. Frankly Gurdwaras have become bereavement centres these days.