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Sikhing Answers

What is Milni?
Sikhing Answers - III




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Every Sikh wedding is preceded by an odd event enacted outside the gurdwara, shortly before the commencement of the Anand Kara;  it doesn't jive with the spiritual atmosphere that follows immediately thereafter.

Known as the 'milni', it constitutes a single gathering of the respective families of the bride and the groom, a collective ardaas, followed by a more informal and somewhat convivial scene of different pairs of people, one each from each side at a time, ceremoniously hugging each other, sometimes garlanding each other, while the groom look on. First the men, then the women. The bride is nowhere in sight.

What is the meaning of the goings-on? What is the purpose?


Posted on February 1, 2012

Closing Date: February 8, 2012

Conversation about this article

1: Jaspreet (London, United Kingdom), February 01, 2012, 12:54 PM.

When someone gets married, it's not only about just the bride and the groom! It's about the two families as well! Milni is how both families formally get introduced to each other before the ceremony. Dad hugs dad ... and the guests get to see how each key person is related to the bride and groom respectively. The bride and groom don't take part in it because their time comes shortly thereafter ... in the wedding ceremony itself.

2: Harpreet Singh (Delhi, India), February 01, 2012, 1:27 PM.

Very nice ceremony to get to know each other's families.

3: Amrit PalSingh (India), February 01, 2012, 2:03 PM.

I totally agree with Jaspreet ... marriage is not just about relationship between bride and groom. The ceremony symbolically recognizes the new role of the two families vis-a-vis the bride and groom.

4: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), February 01, 2012, 4:00 PM.

The 'ceremony' itself means a bond between groups of people coming together through a marriage and done with best interest of the families. However, it becomes futile, especially when more and more the endgame has deteriorated into ills such as dowry, boy-child production, etc.

5: Sarb (United Kingdom), February 01, 2012, 4:36 PM.

It's about the joining of two families ... symbolizing the fact that both sides are fully accepting not just the bride or groom, but the whole family in this union.

6: Avtar (Spokane, Washington, U.S.A. ), February 01, 2012, 4:57 PM.

Agree with Jaspreet! Milni is just to get to know each other.

7: V.S. Mann (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), February 01, 2012, 5:05 PM.

A milni shouldn't be conducted at (or outside) a gurdwara. It has no spiritual or religious significance whatsoever. Rather, it is a social event. When two families arrive at the gurdwara, they should focus on what they are actually there for: to ask God to bless the bride and groom with happiness, health, and an enduring relationship with God and between themselves. The milni takes away this focus by placing the families in the proverbial spotlight. It seems as though we've forgotten what the gurdwara is about: humility and a connection between God and us; not pomp and pageantry. Save that for the reception.

8: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 01, 2012, 6:47 PM.

Years ago I had a call from M. R Chandran, a Malayali and a fellow planter, that their daughter Kamni had fallen in love with a handsome Punjabi Hindu, when they were both studying in the United Kingdom. The wedding was to take place in Kuala Lumpur and a date set. Chandran quite rightly said that he knew nothing about Punjabi culture and customs; would I help out? "Yes, most certainly!" and I got roped in. The auspicious day arrived and we received the groom's family from the United Kingdom, and relatives from India. I was pleasantly surprised to meet the groom's father - Mr. Krishan Bhugtiar - who was deeply steeped in the study of Guru Granth Sahib and carried with him the 2 saanchis (volumes). His knowledge of bani was profound. Although he wanted the laava(n) in a gurdwara, but the bridegroom's parents understandably wanted the wedding in the Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple. There was the night reception before the wedding the next day. Krishan Bhugtiar approached me and wanted a normal Sikh milni and asked if I would do the ardaas and help conduct the ceremony. I agreed and produced a half-page handout describing the ceremony and the ardaas seeking Guru's blessings, starting with: "keeta lorhee-ai kumm so harp eh aakhee/ karaj dy-ay savaar satguru saceh saakhee-ai" [GGS:91.6] - "Whatever task you wish to accomplish, tell it to the Lord, He will resolve your affairs ..." The solemn ceremony was completed and they still remember the beauty and simplicity of the ceremony. In the bargain, I found a good friend and have satsang whenever he comes to Kuala Lumpur.

9: Kanwarjeet Singh (Franklin Park, New Jersey, U.S.A.), February 01, 2012, 8:49 PM.

I think Jaspreet pretty much nailed it. Just to add to that comment: Milni is also a way of showing hospitality and welcoming the other party, (usually the groom's family) which would have traveled a long distance. They may be strangers to the land of the bride and milni makes them feel at home. (The hidden aspect: Once you have hugged someone, a brotherly/ sisterly bond is created and is an amazing ice-breaker). Another important aspect of milni is the ardaas. It is a way of thanking Waheguru that the two families be blessed and bonded forever.

10: R. Singh (Canada), February 02, 2012, 9:01 AM.

V.S. Mann ji, it is only recently that going to the gurdwara has been enforced, before it was the groom's family arriving at the home of the bride. Milni was a mutual greeting. I really don't know how we can separate our real lives from the 'spiritual' aspects. Even now, milni is conducted outside the gurdwara; it should not irk anyone. If we keep implementing more and more strictures, we will divorce ourselves from life itself. Sikhs embrace life. Are we not to use our own judgement?

11: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 02, 2012, 4:30 PM.

Many years ago I was in Delhi to attend a close relative's daughter's marriage when I was named one of the active participants in the milni. A detailed explanation ensued about the opposing 'junjj' - wedding party. It made no sense to me and I said: "Just show me the man and I'll hug him. I need to know no more!" On another such occasion, when I faced the 'opponent', I whispered a few words in his ear. Later, the curious bystanders were keen to find out what had transpired. I was a tad on the heavier side and had merely suggested to him not to try lifting me, as was the jolly custom among the younger participants; I had warned him he would end up with a bad back if he foolishly tried that feat!

12: Jamil Mirza (Lahore, Punjab), February 08, 2012, 11:57 AM.

Milni is very common in West Punjab. Punjabi Muslim elders from both sides greet each other with warmth and hospitality. It is hoped that it will lead both families - and, of course, the bride and groom - to live with joy and prosperity. It also constitutes blessings for the newly-weds. I like this tradition and it should be continued.

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Sikhing Answers - III"

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