Gurdhwara guidelines

What to expect at the wedding ceremony

Gurdhwara Guru Nanak Darbar, where our ceremony will be held.

Don’t worry too much about following these instructions, they are posted for those who like to know what to expect or curious about the wedding rituals. Mandeep’s family (parents, siblings, cousins) will be nearby to guide you as needed.

Most Sikh weddings start in the morning and aim to finish by early afternoon. Expect to dedicate 3 hours or more to this event (breakfast snacks and vegetarian lunch provided).


Women: Wear non-form-fitting clothing that covers your body (short-sleeves are allowed).

A salwaar kameez is a traditional Punjabi outfit but women can opt to wear a shirt, pants, or a long skirt. Wearing a lot of black or white for women is discouraged. But don’t worry if you can’t find something in any other color. This is your opportunity to wear a salwaar kameez if you’ve ever wanted to!

A few salwaar kameez shopping links:

You can wear a saree if you want, but maybe difficult for first-timers if they don’t have assistance. A saree is about 5.5 metres (18 feet) of fabric, and you’ll need experience in draping, pleating, and managing yourself in it.

Men: a suit, or dress shirt and dress pants. Hats/caps are not permitted.

What to bring

  • Headcovering if you have a specific one you want to wear (handkerchiefs provided for those that don’t have one)
    • Women may bring a scarf/shawl
  • Loose change as an offering (dollar bills, loonies, toonies)


Much of this overview directly quotes these sources:

Sikh Weddings – Ritual and Traditions (Medium)
Gurdwara FAQs (World Sikh Organization)
The Gurdwara (BBC)

  1. The families of the bride and groom arrive at the gurdhware before the ceremony. Both families congregate in a large and open area in front of the Gurudwara for the Milni ceremony. Milni is the formal introduction of the key members of both the families with the exchange of garlands. To start of the milni, the priest first recites a small prayer then calls the names of the corresponding relations from either side, beginning from the eldest, that is the grandfathers of the bride and groom. They would in the meet in the middle of the surrounding congregation and exchange garlands and then hug and pose for a picture. (source)
Milni ceremony, before the guests enter the gurdhwara

2. The families are then led into the langar hall (eating area) where they will have breakfast (snacks and milky sweet black tea) and then head into the main hall where the wedding ceremony will take place. It is called Anand Karaj: the blissful union of the bride and groom with the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book) being the witness to this union.

3. The relatives and guests from either side of the family enter into the darbar (main hall where ceremony takes place) and pay respect to the holy book by bowing down and then taking a seat in the room which may be divided with bride’s family on one side and groom’s family on the other. The groom and his parents would be the last to enter. While everyone is paying their respects, a trio of priests is singing shabads (religious hymns).

4. The bride and groom arrive and will sit at the front, accompanied by close family members.

5. A fair amount of sitting, listening to classical Punjabi scripture, and songs for the attendees.

There are no seats. Everyone sits on the floor in a Gurdhwara. This is to be humble before the Guru Granth Sahib and because it gives everyone a place of equal status to sit. Most people sit cross-legged. Cushions and seats are usually not present – but there may be some against a wall for those who have pain. No-one should sit with their feet pointing at the Guru Granth Sahib. (source)

You can leave to use the bathroom etc., as needed and return.

6. The highlight of this ceremony will be the lavaan. The groom and bride circle the holy book four times.

  1. The first laav emphasises on the duty towards the family and the community.
  2. The second laav signifies the stage of yearning and love for each other.
  3. The third laav stresses on the stage of detachment from the world.
  4. The last and final laav signifies the final stage of harmony and union in marriage when love between the couple blends into the love for God.

After the fourth laav is recited, another hymn is sung to mark the marital
union, and a final ardas is performed by the priest with the entire
congregation, including the newlyweds. This would conclude the Sikh
marriage ceremony.

7. Towards the end of a service karah prasad, a sweet vegetarian food that has been blessed, will be served. This should be taken and received in cupped hands as a gift of God. Ask for very little if you’re unsure as it should not be put in the trash since it’s blessed. If you don’t want it, wrap it up in a napkin and consult one of Mandeep’s family members. They’ll save it for later. That being said, most people who’ve tried it for the first time like it – it’s sweet and consists of flour, sugar, and clarified butter.

8. The parents of both the bride and groom would put a garland around the bride and groom and give them shagun (money as a blessing). The rest of the congregation would take turns in doing this too.

9. Everyone then makes their way into the langar hall. The langar is a free vegetarian meal. It is offered to all visitors and one can eat as much or as little as one chooses. If not too certain about consuming this food you can ask to be excused although most people should take langar as it is regarded as a blessing by the Guru. When in the Langar Hall, it is better to ask for less rather than take too much and waste the food. Say “very little” to the (volunteer) serving the Langar. If you require more later, just wait for the Sewadar to come around. You’ll essentially receive a chapati, lentils, spiced vegetables, raita.

10. All done! You can go to your home/hotel and chill before the reception later that day.