Glen Cove Gurdwara Apologizes for Anand Karaj Sacrilege

NEW YORK, NY—The Head Granthi of Glen Cove Gurdwara in New York told Sikh24 earlier today that the incident of a bride sitting alongside Guru Granth Sahib was a shameful act.  “We are trying to find out when this incident took place, and ensure the same mistake is not repeated again,” said Paramjit Singh.

Paramjit Singh, who has been doing seva at the Gurdwara for years, stated that they ensure Guru Granth Sahib is given proper respect at all times. He said this particular incident took place when he was out of the country, but acknowledged that it was due to a lack of  supervision inside the darbar.

“The incident must have taken place after the wedding was over.” He added, “We ask all couples to leave the hall immediately after ardas, the bride must have returned for a photo-shoot after langar.”

The photos of the Bride, Sonal Parmar, are spreading on social media like wildfire. In the photographs, she has her back to the Guru, while sitting on his throne.

As per the Granthi Sevadar, no permission was sought from the Gurdwara for the photo shoot.

Such incidents are on the rise in Western countries, where a new generation of Sikhs is emerging that has little to no understanding of Sikh values and beliefs.  Jagtar Singh, senior editor of Sikh24 said that Gurdwaras need to play a prominent role to ensure families that are being wed fully understand what it means to get married in presence of  Guru Granth Sahib.

Anand karaj has become a mere ritual in these days. Sikhs who get married in Gurdwaras do not necessarily understand the commitment to Sikhi, however due to traditions, they still continue the ceremony of Anand Karaj without actually understanding the meaning behind it.

Comments on social media have been educating to threatening. G Singh asked Parmar, “Why did you choose to even get married around Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj if you have no respect towards Maharaj?”

The Sikh Anand Karaj ceremony, is unique amongst religious traditions, in that it is not about the union of just a bride and groom, but it is about the union of two souls in love with God. The ceremony shows the couple’s commitment to God and Guru as the center of their lives.

Glen Cove Gurdwara committee is discussing this incident and has ensured that it will put in place policies to make sure such incidents are not repeated.  The Gurdwara has appealed to the family to remove the blasphemous pictures from Facebook.

This scandal comes on the heels of another Anand Karaj scandal in the US in which a bridge and groom violated Sikh Maryada by walking side by side during the lavaan.

42 COMMENTS

  1. Hello,
    To be accurate, the Sikh Anand Karaj ceremony is *not* unique amongst religious traditions regarding the fact that it unites two souls in love with God. Jewish and Christian weddings – those that are done in the intended way – do exactly that: unite two souls that were already in love with God prior to the wedding day, and the two people are making a convenant with God to stay united to their earthly spouse. That’s why the ceremony exists. For the earthly people to enter into a covenant with God and with the other, creating a greater level of accountability.

    Example: if I tell my brother that I will help him tomorrow, but then I don’t, I would be breaking my promise to my earthly brother. The worse that would happen is a fight with him, that could later be mended. But if I tell my God that I will go help my brother tomorrow, will I really have as much ease breaking the promise, without fearing the consequences of lying to God?

  2. These kinds of incidents happen because people now a days cant have a normal wedding. We want extraordinary weddings, something different from our relatives and friends, so people can talk how so and so bride and groom did something different. Also the parents are at fault as well where they never talk to their children about the real meaning of important things like anand karaj. In my opinion the photographer shouldnt be blamed at all because its not like he forced the bride to take a picture. Hopefully people learn from this incident and educate themselves a little more. Lastly i would like to ask everyone to not make comments towards anyone involved, they made a mistake and hopefully the bride and groom and families will learn and have more love towards Guru Maharaj ji. Sorry if i said anything wrong. Waheguru. God bless.

  3. I believe that the above comments are suffiecient to make us realise our folly lets not keep indulging into it but rather learn from our mistakes and move on. I believe that the bride did noy do it on purpose but rather found that posing with Guruji would be more out of the world for her photo shoot and she herself may not be aware of the mistake she made. As we are all humans and bound to make mistakes lets give her a chance. To forgive and forget is divine. My 2 cents worth

  4. Firstly, the bride in the photos has her back to the Guru because she doesn’t know any better; it was the Granthi’s responsibility to prevent this.
    With respect to the bride and groom walking side by side as co-equals during the Lavaan: IT’S ABOUT TIME. It’s 2014. What we should really be discussing is why we are not allowing our gay sardars and sadarnis from marrying the partners they love in the temple of the God they worship, ie, the gurdwara. I am sure the old guard will be gasping at this scandalous statement, but that is only because they do not realize that they are on the wrong side of history. I urge them to wake up. Evolution is a continual process without end; it is a leader’s job to preserve the spirit of our faith, not mere protocols that, frankly, were written by old men mere decades and are specifically prescribed anywhere in Gurbani nor contemplated by our Gurus.

    I suppose it is strange for the young to say to the old “grow up,” but there it is.

  5. After all that the “stewards of the faith” have done to discredit themselves and demonstrate how hopelessly backward they are, its sad that these old men still think they have the authority to tell us what our religion means. they should evolve while they still have a chance to remain relevant.

  6. “Back to the Guru”? Does anyone remember Guru Nanak Dev’s story? Where his feet were pointing toward Mecca, holy city for muslims, and he replied along the lines of “God is everywhere, so it does not matter where my feet point towards”. Some of these so called “disrespectful” traditions are exactly what are Gurus told us not to believe in.

    Should the bride have taken these photographs? Take a look at our punjabi culture. Singers wear the Khanda on a necklace and talk about drinking and beating people up. Where is the outrage? There are much more serious problems in our community then this photograph; domestic abuse, alcoholism, caste-system, etc. that our Guru Granth Sahib has always fought against.

  7. A Journey to Mecca
    Guru Nanak now set out to Mecca in Arabia. Mecca is the holy place of the Muslims. The Guru travelled to Surat, a small seaport near Bombay. From there, Guru Nanak and Mardana went to Arabia in a ship. After a few weeks they reached Mecca. There is a very big Mosque in Mecca. Guru Nanak and Mardana were very tired after long travels. They went to the mosque and lay down to take rest. Guru Nanak’s feet were towards the Kaaba in the mosque. The Kaaba is a room in the middle of the mosque and is called, ‘The house of God (Allah).’
    Guru Nanak sleepingA man named Rukandin was the priest of the Kaaba. He came out and saw Guru Nanak’s feet towards the Kaba. He was very angry. He at once shouted. “Don’t you know this is the house of God, you fool? Why are you lying with your feet towards the Kaaba?”
    Guru Nanak woke up. He said, “O sir, I’m sorry I didn’t know it. I was tired so I just lay down and fell asleep. Could you turn my legs to the side in which there’s no God?”
    Rukandin at once caught hold of his legs and dragged them to the other side. He saw that the Kaaba still stood before Guru Nanak’s feet. Then he gave another pull but to his great surprise, he saw the Kaaba again towards the Guru’s feet. He was so upset that he could not speak.
    Guru Nanak said, “Rukandin. God does not live in one place. He lives everywhere.” Saying this, Guru Nanak and Mardana started singing hymns. A crowd of people gathered around them. They called Guru Nanak, ‘Baba Nanak’. ‘Baba’ means an old and wise man.
    After a few days they went to Medina and Baghdad. At Baghdad a Muslim saint Behlol met the Guru. They had a long talk and became friends. Behlol asked Baba Nanak, “What is your idea of God?”
    Guru Nanak replied, “There is one God. He is True. He makes everything. He is not afraid of anyone. He is not born. He never dies. He is self-made. We need only think of Him and pray to Him.”

    Moral of this story:
    God is everywhere. He is in you, in me, in that rock , in the air. EVERYWHERE.

    My view is one can’t be punished for an action they committed unknowingly. It is only called a sin when one commits a certain action with the intention of behaving wrongly.

    I sincerely feel this story is being blown out of proportion and everyone is reacting out of anger. Is that how we all must live? Is that the way we are suppose behave?

  8. This is being blown out of proportion. if a baba can sit along side the holy book and do paath and sit there big deal if a girl sits there for a quick minute?!? she didnt do anything wrong. posing beside it is harmless. she didnt touch it. those baba that sit there and do paath commit more sins than she probably does yet no one points fingers at them. the ones that give parshaad are also not watched. they are dirty, touch their feet, and are very sanitary. One day i took a picture of a baba picking his nose as he went to go refill parshaad in his bowl. absolutely disgusting. before being critical of what others do in a gurdwara take a look at yourselves. This is what us indians are known for, be spend more time nit-picking others lives and finding something to complain about.

  9. I did watched that Video Bride & Groom walking beside each other during Anand Karaj. The Ragi Singh & Granthi The management of that Gurudwara have the responsibility to ask them

  10. Its a freaking picture…like just a picture people. Not like shes making fun of some priest. Its a dam picture of her sitting. Calm down people. Sheesh

  11. Guru Nanak tried to make a point by lying down with his feet towards Kaba, and I think this upheaval over the photo shoot is an insult to our First Guru.
    About time we educate ourself out of this self imposed ignorant and middle aged culture.

  12. The whole wedding should have never have been booked by Glen Cove Gurdwara in the first place.
    This was an interfaith marriage which is forbidden in Gurdwaras. The bride is hindu.

    Sri Akal takhts hukumnama clearly states that both bride and groom must process to be Sikh in order to take part in the Anand Karaj ceremony.

    There is also another person in the top right hand corner of the picture seen holding an object possibly a cup of tea. Who is this person ?

    There was also more than one objectionable photo, another photo shows the bride posing in the room where maharaj is placed to rest.

    Now let’s see if Sikh 24 delete this comment to cover up these facts..

  13. I’m sorry to say but shame on this girl and her family. You just took your vows around Guru Granth Sahib a while ago and you’re doing this minutes later. Turning your back to Guru Granth Sahib. I’m sure sumone from her family was there too. They should’ve known better and this girl. People nowdays have no sharam do all sort of manmat in Gurdwara’s. Another thing should be banned from Gurdwara is when the baraat come playing a dhol and these stupid aunties dancing around showing off their shiny suits and jewellery. You can do all the jummping around at your house there are so many occassions. Half of them can’t even keep their chunni on the head.

  14. glen cove Gurdwara fail to explain why they allowed this wedding in the first place. This was an interfaith marriage the bride is Hindu apparently the groom was not Sikh either. A clear violation of sri akal takht hukumnama on interfaith marriages.

  15. this is nothing compared to the pervert granthis who look down girls’ tops and especially the amount of rapes that happen in gurdwareh.. Committed by granthis! So stop barking at the bride and her family and sort out the real issues ya’ll work so hard to hide!

  16. I have found this article so upsetting. It is about time that the wedding couples and their parents be educated in basic Sikh principles and the importance of humility. We are not more important than the Guru Maharaj even if you ate the wedding couple! As for walking side by side around the Guruji…well we should not be creating our own little shows,you can do all that outside of the premises. Lets get some respect back in our Gurdwara’s!!!!

  17. I think this a terrible thing. How people get married but they don’t really understand what the meaning is behind the Anand Karaj. I hope this is the last time this will ever happen and may maharaj forgive us for all of our mistakes.

  18. I have to say that these incidents happen more in the USA where 2nd & 3rd generation think they are trying to “update” the Sikh religion. These couples should just get married in a civil ceremony, the Anand Karaj is nothing more than a photo opportunity and a chance for the female to show off her langha.

  19. yaar mera english wich hath thoda tang aaa baki mai tahde msg pad jarur sakda likhn wich problem aaa . par jina ne aa kartut kite una de juttiya da hack tan ban da aa photo jis ne clik kite us de hawa set karne chahe dee aa

  20. Those who have settled in America or Canada must tell there children about what Sikhism is insterd of running behind money only GURU GRANTH SAHIB is supreme

  21. Yes. Its true generation x, is following foot steps to generation before them. But what are kids to do. Where politicians have there own issues going. Well there should be respect, from gen x, but the group or Temple comity membership need to take charge of responsibilities. They need to actually educate gen x. For they made there effort in having faith and respect of going. What good was it, if they understood bit n pieces of the Phatt. But the photographer should have been banned. He took pic, if bride didn’t know the photographer should know where he is. What are allowed and what’s not photo wise. Now regaurds the crazy couple that walked next to each other..honestly dude everything comming back to kids folks..grandparents. the Granthiis.

  22. Using the photographers images on this site, without the written permission from them or without the images having a watermark is copyright infringement. Before writing about such a “scandal” you might want to explore whether you might be making a simple mistake, just as they possibly made by not knowing taking such an image was considered offensive. You might want to consider the damage that could come to ones lively hood by posting their images in a negative light.

  23. I personally don’t think the couple that walked side by side was offensive or disrespectful. Things should change with time. Girls and boys should be treated equally and it seems like the new generation knows this but there are a lot of people from the previous generation whom do not want to see the change. I do think what this bride did was very disrespectful.

  24. Sikh Maryada is human made mostly. I don’t see anything offending about walking side by side. So you dear editor are being opinionated like many others.
    As for these pics, I must say that if she’s sitting with her back, that’s her karam. Why are we making sucha big deal? Haven’t we ever made mistakes? By making this a big deal, you pronounce that there is something wrong. This topic can be brough CONSTRUCTIVELY by people who know the bride.

    We need to stop acting illiterate and act more mature. God is everyones and mistakes can be fixed by educating not by criticizing.

  25. HOW IS THIS BAD! in Sikhism women are equal to men, just because traditionally it is not done, does not mean that this act was against Sikhism!

  26. Obviously, the woman in this photo didn’t realize that what she was doing was offensive; I don’t think anyone will choose, of their own volition, to get married in a Gurdwara and then deliberately, with malice, do an offensive act towards the Sikh religion.

    I can understand how people might find this upsetting, but posting this woman’s photo on the web and leaving comments ranging from indignant to hateful, and then demanding that she apologizes for her actions, comes from a place of self-righteousness and is anything but religious.

    If people were really concerned with the act itself (which I agree should not have taken place), they would report it to the Gurdwara and bring it to the attention on the person involved, and not try to make a public spectacle out of it.

    This post and the comments that follow say more about the people leaving these comments and less about the woman in the picture.

  27. People! Instead of getting angry – use this as a learning opportunity – perhaps gurdwaras should take more time to sit with the couple and educate them about the ceremony and learn about them instead of just accepting payment for the marriage ceremony and processing them through the cookie-cutter ritual. It’s just sheer ignorance and that’s it… everything can be corrected with a bit of education.

  28. personally do not find the other anand karaj of groom and bride walking side by side, offensive in anyway. But I would ask with regards to this obviously open disregard for the presence or recognition of Guru Granth Sahib, why Darbar Sahib is left unattended, It is not just this Darbar Sahib, but many others in same predicament. Our local Gurdwara, there is equal ignorance, because the game is to compete for authority, but not for responsibility. Hence, those having authority in our local Gurdwara, have no more knowledge than the bride in this photo, what possibly could they teach members of the public attending? Root of problem, is lack of genuine Gurdwara Governance, and secondly, the imposition of so called “Committees”, so many stink to the high heavens. They are often made up of Non Sikhs, our local Gurdwara majority either consume alcohol, or consume and sell it. Have no interest in daily care or sanctity of the Saroop. And have committed errors which have severely undermined, Maryada of Gurdwara Sahib in the past. I went to every authority i could think of, all the way upto Akal Takth, MP, Sikh Council, other local Gurdwaras. There is no accountability, and no amendment. I have left attending Sunday Diwan. Sikh Panth, set up, dire mess…who will restructure it…or correctly implement Sikh Principles. No one Im sorry to say. Its all a face saving exercise no one wants the headache, or to be the bad guy. REally really sad.

    • I would like to say it is very sorry to say It happened. I would totally say that it is parents responsibility to teach each child when you go to Gurdwaras Sahib take your child around and in the Gurdwaras Sahib give Rules of Gurdwara Sahib how to respect each place for example you go to the Kitchen you take your shoes off, cover your head and do seva and cook langar. When you to to Diwan hall you also cover you head and you go Matha take, go behind the Guru Granth Sahib and Matha take, you say Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa and Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh to Sangat and donate whatever you would like to the Granthi who does the Keertan. It has to come from parents, if they do not know when they come to Gurdwara Sahib first time they should ask someone how to pay your respect and each place.

      Also Gurdwara Sahib at each place can give instructions to whoever asks or interested to know. Another thing can be done is to put the instructions how to and not to do in the Gurdwaras Sahib in Glass bulletin board where it is placed for general public to read who is new there. It is each individual’s responisbility. I would say the Girl Should put a public apology to the Sikh Nation in public. It is unacceptable and shameful.

      Amarjit Kaur Atwal

    • The whole episode is painfully regrettable . I fully subscribe to the observation made by Kulvanth Kaur. The management and only the management is solely responsible for whatever happens in the Gurdwara Sahib. This incident exposes the lack of religious understanding and the requisite devotional commitment thereof of the management.

    • Absolutely agree, there is lack of genuine Gurudwara Governance and accountability.
      It is time to update and refresh the responsibilities of the committees ( Akal Takth?) who are supposedly in charge and issue guidelines for worldwide Gurudwaras regardless of locations.

  29. Waheguru mehr kare… Iss baachi nu maa baap ne nhi sikha chotte honde tho ke guru ghar wich kithe te kidha behtna hai.. Ehi tha dukh hai aaj kaal de young modern peeriya da.. Izzat samaan tha inna nu pta ge nhi..

  30. How about Sikh24 use the whole of my message when writing about messages..? As I was polite thoughout…and it was in no way threatening.

    • While you were not threatening, you instigated and escalated this issue on social media. You posted the girl’s personal info and additional pictures, which lead to all of threats. You provided the photographer’s info, which lead to additional threats.

      You exposed the ugliness of some Sikhs by doing all of this. What kind of message does this send about Sikhism to the folks who are not too knowledgeable about Sikhism?

      You didn’t know all of the facts and spurred additional controversy by posting pictures of men who you thought was the girl’s husband. And you have the nerve to play innocent with your comment?

      You caused a lot of drama without having all of the facts. So don’t act like some sort of heroic messenger that exposed something for the good of the religion.

    • While you were not threatening, you did instigate and escalate this issue via social media. You did nothing wrong by bringing the issue to light – it needed to be addressed. But what was the rationale for posting the girl’s personal info? What was the rationale for posting your messages to her, along with additional photos? What was the rationale for revealing the Gurdwara’s and the photographer’s identity?

      Did you give the girl a chance to remove the photos in time? You may think that you were simply being an innocent messenger, but the fact of the matter is that you were being malicious. As a result of your malicious act, the girl has received so much ill-will from around the world. One could argue that you also committed a form of sacrilege. There are so many posts on social media with evil words in the very same sentence where the Gurus are referenced. You initiated an ugliness of Sikhism; just look at the things people are saying – the very same people that practice such a beautiful and peaceful religion.

      Do you think this girl did this on purpose? Clearly it was a mistake out of naivety. I ask you, have you not made mistakes in your life? I implore you and all of the naysayers on social media to ponder this question.

      Nobody knows the details of what occurred on that day, and yet everyone is pointing fingers. The proper way to have handled this is to have contacted the Gurdwara directly. I’m certain they would have addressed the issue in a timely manner. And if you wanted to initiate a dialogue on social media, you could have posted the photo with the girl’s face blurred. This would still allow you to bring the mistake to light, without tarnishing someone’s life. If anyone did something wrong with this entire incident, it is you my friend.

  31. This is really shameful. This girl has done a senseless act only just for 2 or 4 photo clicks. She must be apologized in the gurdwara with the presence of all his family.

  32. This is untrue. They do not ensure proper respect is given to Maharaj Ji’s saroops, as the last time I went there, sanchian were being kept uncovered on the shelves of their library. Singhs need to hold a morcha at the Gurdwara, and make the management and head granthi apologize to the whole of the sangat.

  33. don’t forget to involve the photographer in all this. Even if he is not a Sikh, he should still be educated. The family and the bride should apologize. This is sickening.

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