UK—A lot of press coverage has recently taken place, sensationalizing the somewhat brutish actions of a few over-zealous Sikh youth at recent inter-faith weddings in the UK.
A slightly more in-depth reflection on the happenings is required. In part, to help steer the discussion towards a more balanced and reasoned conclusion than is currently being sent out. But also to counter the band-wagon of knee-jerk responses from some of the Sikh and non-Sikh opinions that keep surfacing.
The hope is that this might also begin to stem the finger pointing attitude from both sides of the opinion table which seem to be creating an ever increasing entrenchment of views, often based upon overly emotional perspectives. A natural result of which, is another step towards a less embracing family. The opposite direction to the “one world – one family” ethos that is Sikhi (Sikhism).
First of all, it’s prudent to point out that all quarters of the Sikh nation unequivocally agree on the Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM) guidance of Sikhs marrying Sikhs only, when conducting the ceremony of Anand (Anand Karaj). However, does this mean a Sikh can’t marry a white, black or any other race denomination? THEY MOST CERTAINLY CAN!
Sikhi is a path for all. It’s teachings are not for Sikhs per se, but for all mankind. So a Sikh can unquestionably be of any race, color, faith, or background.
Therein, however, lies the caveat. The person(s) in question, regardless background or race, will be a professed follower of the Guru’s path. In other words, a self-confessed student (Sikh).
The reason for this is the same as why you wouldn’t find a Muslim taking an oath on the Bible, or a Hindu taking an oath on the Tora. The Anand Karaj ceremony is a publicly declared, binding contract (oath), based on the core spiritual instructions (Lava[n]) being recited at the time.
For a person to espouse the instructions before him or her, they would naturally have to had accept the path of Sikhi in the first instance. If not, the whole occasion is reduced to a meaningless ritual. The very thing that the foundations of Sikhi breaks us away from. Namely, empty rituals and meaningless practices.
A Sikh could very well marry someone of a differing faith, without any interference but, not under the canopy of the Anand Karaj due to the reasons highlighted.
Another reason for our wise forefathers including this condition within the code of conduct was due to the far-sighted wisdom of recognizing the conflict of a couple treading differing spiritual paths under one roof. A life-partner in Sikhi is intended to be a companion in life-long progression towards enlightenment. This endeavor is rendered moot with partners who are on differing paths, let alone differing spiritual planes.
Common sense, you might say. Yet surprisingly (or unsurprisingly – you decide), members of majority of the UK Gurdwara committees don’t appear to be apprised of the basics highlighted above.
Given the above explanation, I strongly feel that protesting and forceful stopping of a ceremony is at contrast to the ways that Guru Jee and his wise ways of imparting knowledge and encouraging change. Education, love, understanding and patience are virtues we seem to be lacking these days. The very virtues that come to flower within ourselves when we absorb Gurbani’s teachings and immerse ourselves in His meditation. The lack of these traits within us is a clear reflection of our current state or progression on this great uplifting path.
The Sikh Council UK have now issued an advisory statement to Gurdwaras of the UK to help create a uniformed approach to the matter. As well as advising protesters to exercise restraint whilst a transition period ensues.