Arranged marriages are part of Sikh culture. Sikhs believe that marriage brings two extended families together. Marriage Marriage is a very important part of Sikhism. Some marriages are still arranged by the families of the bride and groom, but both individuals have the right not to marry the partner chosen for them. Marriage is seen as a commitment before Waheguru (Almighty) and the purpose is so the individual has companionship on their spiritual path, rather than sexual pleasure. A marriage also brings two families together and Sikhs believe that it is important that the families get on. This is one of the reasons why Sikhs encourage their children to marry other Sikhs. There may be an engagement ceremony in the gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) where Waheguru is thanked for bringing the couple together. The groom’s mother visits the bride and gives her a gold ring. Anand karaj – the wedding ceremony A Sikh wedding usually takes place in the morning. It is held in front of a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib. In India a bride may traditionally be dressed in red but in other countries she may wear white with her head covered with a chunni (scarf). The groom wears a coloured turban and scarf and carries a kirpan (a ceremonial sword or dagger). The idea of a dowry is forbidden in Sikhism. Any Sikh can conduct the ceremony. Before the service the families meet and give gifts and then eat a meal (called the milna). The ceremony starts with the morning hymn, Asa di var, and the Ardas (a prayer for important tasks). The Sikh ideal of marriage is explained as the joining together of two souls. The bride and groom bow to the Guru Granth Sahib to show that they accept these teachings and wish to spend the rest of their lives together supporting each other physically and spiritually. The bride’s father places flower garlands over the couple and ties one end of the groom’s scarf to the end of the bride’s head scarf. This shows that she is leaving her father and joining her husband. The lavan (wedding hymn) of Guru Ram Das is sung. The lavan explains the relationship between Waheguru and an individual. The couple walk clockwise around the Guru Granth Sahib four times. The service ends with karah parshad (ceremonial food). Finally, everyone eats in the langar (free kitchen). Divorce, remarriage and cohabitation Sikhs couples are expected to remain faithful and avoid adultery because marriage is important to strengthen family life and raise children. Cohabitation is not allowed in Sikhism. Sikhs hope that couples will stay together for life but they accept that divorce is sometimes inevitable. A marriage is a commitment made in front of Waheguru and cannot easily be broken. However if there is a problem with the relationship the community will try to help resolve the situation. If one of the couple refuses to try to heal the marriage the other partner asks the community for permission to divorce and remarry. Widows and widowers are allowed to remarry in a gurdwara.