We are ecstatic to share this post from our Shaadi Bazaar bride, Nishi about her experience planning her Hindu-Sikh wedding. Shaadi Bazaar’s goal is to encourage brides in our New England community to share information rather that hide and keep things all to themselves. We want brides to help other brides and share advice and knowledge. Nishi is doing just that!! She took on the task to plan a multi-faith wedding and hopes to help future brides by sharing her experience. Here is she in her own words:
Planning a fusion wedding wasn’t exactly the easiest but if I had to do it all over again, I would do it EXACTLY the way we did. Looking back at the 12-15 months it took to plan our wedding, I would have to say the most difficult task was to come up with a plan on how to incorporate elements of both my Hindu religion as well as my fiance’s (now husband) Sikh religion –and executing it tastefully. Of course, every bride has that one difficult task and for me, this was it.
Quick synopsis: Harinder and I met 10 years ago at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. We dated through our undergraduate studies, through my graduate program and his medical school. And ultimately we planned the wedding while Harinder was in his 3rd year of Orthopedic Surgery residency. Being engaged to a surgical resident is tough in itself- but my fiance was definitely very supportive and always there for me. We also had a long distance relationship for the past 7 years, and through the entire wedding planning process. Seven long years later, we are finally in the same state. “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” DEFINITELY NOT A JOKE!
Once we got engaged, and settled on a wedding date, the planning began. Both our parents are religious and were very supportive of us getting married. I consider us lucky because I know not all parents would have been as accepting as ours when it came to marrying out of religion. That brings me to my first point- Hinduism and Sikhism are not very different at all. The beliefs are very similar, it’s just that some of the traditions are different. I have to admit, I wish I had someone to go to when planning our fusion wedding. I did not know of any Hindu-Sikh couples that could help guide me so I hope I can be of some help to future brides on the same boat.
In the Hindu and Sikh traditions, there is a distinction between religion and culture, and ethical decisions are grounded in both religious beliefs and cultural values. In both religions, traditional teachings deal with the duties of individuals and families to maintain a lifestyle conducive to physical, mental and spiritual health. These traditions share a culture that includes ideas of karma and rebirth. For Hindus and Sikhs, birth and death are repeated, for each person, in a continuous cycle. Both believe what a person does in each life influences the circumstances and predispositions experienced in future lives. In essence, every action or thought, whether noble or sinful, has consequences that are carried forward into the next life. Speaking of differences, one of the major differences is that Sikhism is a monotheistic religion; Sikhs believe there is only one God, who has infinite qualities and names. Hinduism is a diverse system of thought with beliefs spanning from monotheism to polytheism. Another difference is that the worship of murtis (icons) is an important part of several Hindu traditions whereas Sikhs do not believe in worship of any sort of physical idol, symbol, picture, or statue. Fanning of the Guru Granth Sahib is a tradition carried over from Punjab to protect the Granth (holy book) and its reader from airborne debris, as outside worship was common. Recital of prayers and listening to hymns make up Sikh prayer. The list of similarities between the religions are endless and the list of differences is finite. The differences/similarities can be discussed longer but for purposes of this blog, it’s important to note, that at the end of the day, religion should not being a sole factor in any marriage. And it certainly wasn’t for us.
Back to planning- as similar as both religions are, I definitely found it to be a daunting task to figure out how to execute the wedding both ways in ONE PLACE. Hindus get married around ‘agni’ (fire) and ‘murtis’ (icons) and Sikhs are wedded around the Guru Granth Sahib (holy book). Hindus typically get married in a banquet hall, hotel ballroom, Mandir, etc. However, Sikhs are usually married inside a Gurudwara because the Guru Granth Sahib is not typically taken out of the gurudwara in settings where alcohol and smoking and such may have been on the premises. Originally, we assumed we would have the Hindu ceremony first at the Hilton Hotel ball room followed by a Sikh ceremony in a gurudwara 20 minutes away. Having one Indian wedding calls for a very long day and to imagine the above and have our guests running around to attend both ceremonies just did not seem feasible! Alas, we found a solution! We found a group of 2-3 Guru ji’s in Buffalo, NY that would travel with the Guru Granth Sahib and conduct the Sikh ceremony for us at the Hilton Hotel which would eliminate any relocating for the ceremony. So our wedding day started with the Baraat and Milni (Punjabi ritual for coming together of the two families). We had our decorator, Shobha Shastry from Alankar, decorate the ballroom in a very elaborate way. She had the Hindu mandap setup next to a Sikh mandap so following the first ceremony, we could immediately begin the second ceremony. We had floor seating, with very pretty cushions and red/gold pillows, to respect the Sikh tradition. We had requested both the Hindu and Sikh priests to conduct the ceremonies so both included the most important elements only as to avoid it from becoming too long. Both ceremonies include four “pheras”- another similarity. We were also told by the priests, that completing the ‘pheras’ twice for both religions would strengthen the bond of our marriage. One of the best parts for me was when Hindu guests told me how beautiful and serene the Sikh ceremony was and my Sikh guests told me they loved being part of their first Hindu ceremony. It was very rewarding to hear that. The ceremonies concluded by 12pm which is amazing considering we just got married TWICE 🙂
There you go- that was our Hindu- Sikh wedding in a nut shell when it comes to the religious aspect of it. Other than that, the only other piece of advice I have is for long distance couples and how to remain sane during the process. It can be overwhelming, when your significant other is not around to go to all the vendor appointments, tastings, etc. But some things you just cannot control so try to do other things together that don’t require you to be in the same place. I always made to-do lists for Harinder and I. We would make a phone date for certain important tasks we needed to tackle together such as song selections, favors, etc. We both have very difficult work schedules and being apart, we felt this was the best way to get things done. When you make small practical to-do lists and set a certain deadline to get them done, it is POSSIBLE- even if you are hundreds of miles apart.
Also, thank and respect your parents each step of the way. Without them- nothing is possible.
Cinematography: Robles Video
Floral & Indian Decor: Alankar Decorators
Indian Catering: Masala Art
Wedding Cake and Sweets: Fredericks Bakery
Wedding Clothing: Bride: Seasons Groom: Bombay Shervanis
Wedding DJs & Entertainment: Dj Yogz
Wedding Photography: Binita Patel Photography
Wedding Hair & Makeup: Goka Love
Mehndi: Vidhi Dalia
Transportation: StatusRide Luxury car rental
Venues: The Hilton Hotel, Woburn , MA
Thank you for reading our Indian wedding blogs, come back for more wedding planning advice. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share your experience.