VANCOUVER, Canada—Sarbjeet Singh Neel, also known as Dr. “Freedom Singh” and his wife Barbara Fraser (Leela Singh) have announced to perform interfaith weddings in the UK as most Gurdwaras there have refused to do so. Dr. Freedom is based out of Canada and is known for performing destination weddings across the globe. He has several websites promoting his businesses, including bookings for Anand Karajs, sangeet parties and other rituals.
Sikh Rehit Maryada, Chapter XI, Article XVIII, Point K. states, “Persons professing faiths other than the Sikh faith cannot be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony.” Dr. Freedom totally disregards Sikh beliefs and traditions through his service by ignoring the Sikh Rehit Maryada, and the Sri Akal Takht Sahib, the highest seat of authority for the Sikhs.
In 1998, Akal Takht Sahib issued a mandate to the worldwide Sikhs asking them to not take Guru Granth Sahib’s saroops to hotels and palaces, which at that time had become a common practice. Anand Karajs would take place in palaces, where alcohol and meat would be served concurrently. Dr. Freedom and Leela are not only guilty of defying the Akal Takht Sahib mandate that bars interfaith weddings, they are also responsible for sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
An undercover phone call to Dr. Freedom revealed that he has arranged for anand karajs in remote locations by transporting Guru Granth Sahib Ji’s scripture. “I bring the scriptures carry on all the time, not checked. We take the entire scripture and conduct the ceremony and also provide music for the Sangeet,” Dr. Freedom said.
When asked about potentially disrespecting Guru Granth Sahib, Dr. Freedom replied, “Gurbani is eternal and the word respect is your own prospective. As long as you don’t intend harm, there’s nothing wrong with it.”
A quote dating 2014, provided to Sikh24 by one of Dr. Freedom’s clients, revealed the Canadian couple charge US $2,000 as “Professional fees for the Wedding Service including the Milni Ceremony if required, bringing the Adi Granth (Sikh Scriptures) and their appropriate respective materials. We do not bring the Palki.”
“Our Fees DO NOT include: Travel/Flights (for 2) from Vancouver to your wedding destination. Other expenses may include parking, car rental, gas, tolls, baggage, flight insurance, meals, and incidentals. This fee will be personally quoted to you when we know exactly when, where, and the duration of the event; and what services are required of us. (The return trip can vary from 4 – 6 days total).”
“For an additional fee of US$1000 we can also provide Live Music for the Ladies Sangeet Party, Mehndi or Reception Event.”
The new endeavor of “interfaith weddings in UK” by Dr. Freedom and Leela is being marketed as a way to “promote love and respect” among those who have been refused marriage by Gurdwaras in UK for violating the Akal Takht Sahib edict. Tensions were high in UK last year and a protest broke out at an interfaith wedding where the bride was from a Sikh family and the groom was Christian. Both decided to wed twice, once at a Church and then again at the Gurdwara.
The protest led the Gurdwara Committee to call the police and several protesters were arrested. One of the protesters, Deep Singh stated that he was not against interfaith or mixed marriages. He explained that an “anand karaj was a religious ceremony and in a religious building, you have to understand and follow tenets of the religion”. He said just performing ardas and registering the wedding with the registrar could be an option for interfaith couples.
The Sikh Council UK, the largest body of British Sikhs, has ruled that Gurdwaras should not perform interfaith weddings as it also called for an end to protests.
“Instead of explaining anand karaj and its true purpose, this has become a business opportunity for many,” Deep Singh said. “Religious ceremonies are for peace of mind, however, many people unknowingly indulge into beadbi by not having the proper guidance. This cannot be allowed.”
Video of interfaith “Fusion Sikh Hindu Wedding” performed by Dr. Freedom and Leela. Hindu chants of “Jai Ram” [hail lord Rama] can be heard in the background.
Dr. Freedom Leela singing Gujarati songs in presence of Guru Granth Sahib