Kids Corner


Musical Chair Grooms





With due apologies in advance to India’s Facebook police who may want to arrest me for doing this. And to all Hindu fundamentalists who might wish to do me harm, all for merely thinking aloud.

I would like to shed some light on an incident that I witnessed last Sunday, the 18th of November, 2012.

It was a day of joy and cheer for hundreds of thousands around the length and breadth of India. A brahmin quack somewhere had announced that the planets were aligned perfectly for holy matrimony.

If you were to get married on the date and time prescribed, it was proclaimed, the newly-weds were guaranteed a life full of bliss and happiness. It was an auspicious time because the forces of nature had come together to make it ‘favourable’.

Oblivous of her good fortune, my niece had arranged her wedding months earlier for this perfect Sunday.

We arrived at the Gurdwara Nabha Sahib in Zirakpur, in the outskirts of Chandigarh, Punjab, each a bag of mixed emotions: happiness, cheer, sadness, straight out of a Bollywood movie.

The whole star-cast was present. We had drama. We had women in their finery, dripping diamonds, beautiful kohl-lined eyes hidden behind mafia-esque glasses, but only to shield against the terror of the sun.

The men too were dressed to kill, resplendent in their suits and a rainbow of pastel-coloured turbans. Ready for the ceremony, in a fairy-tale setting, complete with flowers galore, each petal with just the right touch of dew.

The ceremony was performed beautifully; the shabads traditionally sung, filling the air with just the right level of piety and sanctity. A Sikh wedding is oh so exquisite! … the wedding vows sung to the raags from the Guru Granth Sahib … holy, pure, simple.

Well, the fourth circumambulation was completed, we were all teary and glaze-eyed eyes. Overwhelmed by the weight of the moment, the sniffling had started: the bride’s family resigned to the departure of a daughter, the groom’s side celebrating and congratulatory.

Suddenly, a commotion behind us. We heard rustling and stumbling, running and jostling. We turned around to check it out: surely it was too early for the festivities to begin. Certainly not the time and place.

Not one, not two, not three, but seven bedecked grooms stood in a bundle, right behind us, struggling for a place in the front of the lot, a few feet away from my newly-wed niece and her prince who were still being blessed by friends and family.

Sattey pe satta … seven on seven. A reanactment of “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”?

They were wannabe grooms, waiting for their turn, but anxious to get done in a hurry.

Why? So that they could get married before the auspicious time ran out!

And there was a whole rumble of women behind them. No, to the left of them, to the right of them. Now, in front of them.

Mothers. Bless their souls, they wanted their sons wedded first, not wanting to take any risk of missing the heavenly deadline.

The whole country was getting married. But there was no space, no appointments, no priests, left in Hindu temples to accommodate the rush.

But Sikh couples? In gurdwaras?

Playing musical chairs when, here, they did not need to?

The solemn moment all lost, the movie-camera man covering our wedding had the biggest challenge: how to keep the extra grooms out of the picture-frame!

He finally gave up. The baraatis from the seven weddings in waiting had arrived and could not be contained any longer in the hall outside.

Then, it was bhai ji, sweating over the parshad distribution: who should he give the parshad to, and who not. There wasn’t enough to go around with this unexpected turnout.

Welcome to the new India … where we have lowered ourselves to the lowest common denominator!


November 23, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), November 23, 2012, 2:21 PM.

Thank you, Ravneet Kaur ji.

2: H. Kaur (Canada), November 24, 2012, 6:03 AM.

I thought that Sikh theology states that the planets and starts have no influence on what happens to people. Bhai Gurdas condemns such superstitions thoroughly too. He says the Sikhs who reject all such superstitions enjoy happiness with God and cross the world-ocean. He says something else about those who do believe in superstitions such as the 'influence' of the zodiac and planets, lucky and unlucky days, etc. See his Vaar 5 for the details. This is just one illustration of Sikhs becoming increasingly drawn into the mire of Brahminical superstitions. They have taken on other stupid practices from the same lot: denigrating the value of girl children: they ask sants to bless them so they have a boy and granthis to do ardaas for it and there is the good old female foeticide, if all else fails. Why people would follow another faith's priesthood - and ailments - that has robbed even its own masses blind for centuries and centuries, I don't understand? Religions need to be protected by the state to flourish and India does not protect certain religions but wants them to be assimilated into Hinduism. That is why its constitution says Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists are Hindus. Things like the current government of Canada saying Christian priests will tend to the needs of prisoners of other faiths is something surprising and very disturbing - a new development! Through the residential schools, one can see how the Canadian state in the twentieth century promoted Christian and other western values over the natives by force for decades. Canada has come a long way since. I hope India will learn too to protect its minority cultures and religions and let them flourish.

3: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), November 24, 2012, 11:37 AM.

And the evil of dowry -- another practice which should have no place in a Sikh marriage.

4: Charandeep Singh (Chandigarh, Punjab), December 06, 2012, 1:45 AM.

So simple lines with a beautiful message by Guru Nanak - "thit vaar na jogi jaane / rut maah no koiee / ja karta sirthi ko saaje / aape jaane soiee." Indian society has always been gripped by casteism where the castes considered the highest have been duping the others on one pretext or the other - rituals at the time of birth, thread, mundan, marriage and even death. Pronouncing a time as 'auspicious' is only to keep their scams running. Sikhi preaches the common man to steer away from these practices.

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