A Guide For Non-Sikhs

If you are invited to a Sikh wedding, don’t panic, here is an insiders guide to what each bit on the invitation card really means.

1.Reception of Barat
The Barat is the Groom’s tribe which invariably arrives late in dribs and drabs and in a state which thinly disguises the fact that many have had a skinful and some may still have much contraband on their person. The ‘reception’ usually takes place at the entrance to or in the courtyard of the Gurdwara and takes the form of much shouting and wailing (mainly by women) commencing from the moment the hordes first come into view.

To the finely tuned ear it is obvious that juicy insults are attempted to be set to tune but very little rehearsal time may be just one of the cause’s of the non-synchronised efforts.

When the opposition has been lined up in a stand off position, the Ardas (equivalent of the Lord’s Prayer) is mumbled by the Giani (Priest, the learned one or someone on a visitor’s visa and here for the money) and mimed by the shameless. Non-Sikhs are advised to take off their shoes and cover their heads (not with the shoes silly) and observe and copy the rest in silence or else.

2.Milni & Tea
Milni is loosely translated as ‘to meet’ and is the formal meeting of the heads of the households (‘who wears the trousers’). It take the form of exchange of token gifts (like team captains at football matches swapping pennants) but some flash gits have ruined this laudable tradition and try showing off by showering all the chieftains from the Groom’s tribe (his old man in particular) with tons of unsavoury and tasteless jewellery. This could involve hundreds of people – some only who come out of the woodwork and are seen at weddings and the palaver goes on for hours but the more orthodox concentrate on perhaps the Bride and Groom’s legitimate fathers and one or two decent uncles.

Having had embarrassing photos taken of the fake loving hugs during the exchange of gifts, there is usually a mad rush by the Groom’s tribe to where the food is.The food (at this time of the morning) usually comprises samosa, pakoras, jalebis, ladoos and barfi served with steaming hot tea or Coke (the drinking variety) in cramped conditions and with disingenuous smiles.

3.Anand Karaj
This is the religious bit and takes place in the Darbar Sahib (main hall) where the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy Book) is present.The Granthis (those who supposedly know how to respect the Holy Book) and Gianis force the intended victims (the couple) to sit cross legged in front of the Holy Book with a posse of female minders to prevent any escape attempts with the rest of the sleepy congregation/guests behind them.

After the spiritual rituals of identifying the guilty parties (by making them stand up when all else are asleep in a whacked out and uncomfortable to fart positions) and another (silent) Ardas, the religious wedding bit takes place by the Groom dragging the Bride around the Holy Book four times – the Bride is usually comforted/consoled by ‘the brothers’ during each of the laps.The couple attempt to time each lap to coincide with the completion of the verse singing by the now drowsy Gianis before sitting down in their original spots.

After the four laps are completed, the couple and the rest have to endure a series of hymn singing, advice from hypocrites and pleas for contributions to the building fund, natural or man-made disasters and directions to the booze palace before being set free by a final verse from the Holy Book and the receiving of Holy Food (Karah Parshad). The couple then just sit there like lemons so the punters can pat them on the head and pose for photos/video shots of them giving dodgy money before pushing and shoving everyone else to find their shoes and illegally parked motors so as to get to where the booze is – fast.

4. Reception
This is often in a hall which is never large enough but miles away. The reason for the hall being too small is two fold – one, Western society just cannot comprehend the size of Sikh events (we always want to be bigger and possibly better than everyone else) and two, loads of gatecrashers/freeloaders tend to crawl out of the woodwork knowing there is going to be free booze, food and pretty women at the do.

At the hall, more by chance or luck than judgement or planning, nibbles, soft drinks and beer is laid out before guests arrive by which time spirits start materialising in plentiful quantities. The equivalent of tandoori chicken, lamb chops and the like are served to semi-pissed guests who are also semi-deaf by now due to extremely loud music being throbbed continuously since their arrival.

After about two hours, everyone picks themselves off the floor to acknowledge the arrival of the married couple who eventually cut the cake, attempt to dance and then tuck into their packed lunch (just joking). The main course is served soon after to allow the puke ups to have that special colour and stench before the fights break out.

Eventually, people start leaving, often of their own accord or with friends/relatives who can still remember where their cars are parked and sometimes accompanied by police or immigration officers.

5. Finally
The times on the invites are indicative only and no account should be taken of them – add half an hour for each successive item throughout the day.

Women who defiantly wish to wear short skirts to the Gurdwara should only do so if they got legs worth looking at and don’t care if they look stupid trying to sit cross legged on the floor with their knickers showing.

There is never a wedding list for presents but book tokens are definitely out.
Spare a thought for the (now) poor bugger who has to pay for all of this.

Anonymous Singh July 2000