This morning we’ve been at Bob’s wedding ceremony, the Anand Karaj. The starting time of the event was a bit confusing. According to the invitation card, the start of the ceremony was 10:30 h, with lunch being served at 11:30 h. During the Sehra Bandi, Bob had told me the Anand Karaj was going to begin at 9:30 h. His brother, Roger, had asked me to be there at 10:00 h.

Sikh Temple, Ground FloorI decided to go for the golden middle and showed up exactly at 10 h. Arriving at the temple, the Gurudwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Bangkok’s Pahurat District, we had to take off our shoes and leave them in storage areas which a separated by gender. Apart from taking off your shoes, you have to refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol. Men also have to wear some kind of turban, women have to cover their hair and shoulders with a scarf. Both scarf and turban are provided by the temple.

A headscarf can look beautifulBut back to the timing of the event. When we arrived, a ceremony was already progressing. We were told the wedding would start around one hour later, but we could attend the ongoing ceremony, which we did. Unfortunately, less than 10 minutes after we joined, it was over. We were given some kind of Sikh sacrament, wet and soft food which tasted ok in the beginning but was hard to eat up coz it started tasting strange. I’ve learned it’s called Karahprasad.

The Ceremony HallThen we tried to kill some time at the cantine which served free food, but we had eaten already. At 10:45 we decided to have a look at the ceremony hall again. Some kind of ceremony had started already, so we sat down, even though hardly anybody else was there, not even the groom or his family. So we had to keep on waiting.

Sri Guru Granth SahibThe ceremony hall (on the 4th floor of the temple) was quite interesting. A wide and very long room, lots of windows, air-conditioned, floors covered with beautiful rugs, except for a marble aisle separating the room into two halves. In Sikh temples, women have to sit on the left, men on the right of the aisle. In the middle of the room there was what looked like a golden porch with a golden roof, decorated with flowers, where the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is kept, the holy book of the Sikh. A man with a long black beard and an orange turban was sitting inside. Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the musiciansThis man is the Granthi, he reads and sings from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. To the right of the golden porch, there was a plain porch where three men were playing what looked like a xylophone and small drums, one of them was singing. This is called Kirtan.

Bob arrived between 11:15 and 11:30 and sat down with some of his friends and family. More and more people arrived and sat down. At 11:45, the bride and her “supporters”, all female, arrived and walked down the aisle. They sat down in front of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, next to Bob.

Bride and GroomThe actual wedding ceremony began when the Granthi opened the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and started singing hymns, which is called Lavan. During the ceremony, Bob led his bride around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, she held on to the scarf he was wearing while one of her friends followed her closely to show her support. After having completed the round, the couple sat down again. This was repeated another three times.

After this, the community got up on their feet and recited the Ardaas, the final prayer, which marked the end of the ceremony in the hall. When they started distributing their Karahprasad again, we decided to engage a fallback tactic. 😉

Lunch at the templeThe wedding was concluded by having lunch at the temple’s canteen on the 2nd floor. The food was similar to the food served the night before during the Sehra Bandi. In retrospect, the ceremony at the temple was short but seemed very long because of all the waiting. The Sehra Bandi was clearly more fun.

If you want to know more about Sikh wedding ceremonies, I recommend you read the following sources:
The Sikhism Home Page: A Sikh Wedding
www.sikh.net: Anand Karaj
Description of Anand Karaj on BBC’s Religion and Ethics Website