Raju Chadha presses for Sikh wedding reform

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Dr Raju Chadha
Dr Raju Chadha

Businessman’s efforts lead to resolution to make ceremonies simple and at Gurudwaras

In a landmark decision that will have wide ramifications for the Sikh community in India―and abroad―the top five Sikh priests have passed a historic resolution to make major reforms in Sikh weddings and other ceremonies. The resolution, passed on 12 December 2016, aims to bring back simplicity into the ceremonies and reduce financial burdens on families, thus bringing them closer to the core values of the religion, which has millions of followers globally, including in North America.

Dr Raju Chadha, chairman of the Wave Group, played a major role in the making of the resolution. One of the most successful businessmen in India, and known for his philanthropic work, Dr Chadha took the initiative of drafting the resolution, especially the first point that calls for simplifying the process of wedding invitations.

Dr Chadha said that he urged members of the community to use modern communication methods for the distribution of wedding cards. “A lot of time and money is spent by families in distributing the cards door to door to their relatives and friends. This can be simplified if the cards are sent by courier or e-mail or whatsapp messenger. This will save a lot of time, money and energy of many people,” he explained.

One of the most prominent members of the Sikh community in India, Dr Chadha broached the topic with the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. His initiative bore fruit late last year when the five Singh Sahiban―Gyani Iqbal Singh Ji of Patna Saheb (Bihar), Gyani Mal Singh Ji of Sri Anandpur Saheb, Gyani Gurmukh Singh Ji of Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), Gyani Gurbachan Singh Ji of Sri Akal Takht Saheb, and Gyani Raghbir Singh Ji of Sri Darbar Saheb (Sri Amritsar)―collectively passed the resolution in December 2016. The resolution will be made public soon.

“This is really a historical development as the resolution has been passed by all the five Singh Sahiban. In our Sikh history, the Singh Sahiban has a prominent role as they had baptised Guru Gobind Singh ji. Now, as all of them have collectively passed the resolution, the Sikh community will take it very seriously,” Dr Chadha added.

Recalling the marriage of his elder sister in 1976, Dr Chadha said that his father and the father-in-law of his sister took the lead in organising the wedding in the day time―to cut costs and to make it simple. “Now almost 95 per cent of Sikh weddings take place in the day time, but in 1976 it was a novelty and we are proud to have set this trend,” said Dr Chadha, adding that lavish weddings are a big problem for more than 70 per cent of families who can’t afford them but are forced to do so under social pressure.

“For 10 per cent of rich families, big weddings are not an issue. For 10 to 15 per cent of poor families, it doesn’t matter. But for the majority of the people in the middle, it is a big problem. That’s why it is important to perform weddings in a Gurudwara in the traditional and simple way,” he said.

With this objective in mind, the resolutions mention that the five Singh Sahiban expect the “Sikh Sangat to solemnise Anand Karaj, the marriage ceremony, in a gurudwara. Both the girl’s and boy’s side should reach the gurudwara on time to perform the ceremony. If possible, the wedding should be followed by langar in the gurudwara itself.”

The resolution, which will be made public soon also calls for other ceremonies like bhog to be performed keeping in mind the time and cost factor. “In accordance with the Rahat Maryada, the core conduct of the Sikhs, all functions should be kept very simple, so that minimum expenditure is incurred,” says the last point of the resolution which will have a major impact on the community in the coming years.

Dr Chadha says he has deep faith in the core value of Sikhism, which is ‘equality’. “We are all equal irrespective of our caste and social status. We, as a community, need to reaffirm this core value, and this can be done if more weddings are performed at Gurudwaras and with simplicity. This will also bring the community together,” he said.

The original copy of the resolution signed by the five Sikh Sahiban
The original copy of the resolution signed by the five Sikh Sahiban

The Resolution

In the presence of the Five Singh Saheban, the following resolution was passed in December 2016:

1. The Sikh Sangat should accept and send invitations for weddings or any other functions just by courier or by email or any other modern means to save time and money.

2. We also expect the Sikh Sangat to solemnise Anand Karaj, the wedding ceremony, in a Gurudwara. Both the girl’s and boy’s side should reach the Gurudwara on time to perform the ceremony. If possible, the wedding should be followed by langar in the Gurudwara itself.

3. Other ceremonies like Bhog, etc. should also be held keeping the time and cost factor in mind.

4. In accordance with the Rahat Maryada, the core conduct of the Sikhs, all functions should be kept very simple, so that minimum expenditure is incurred.

Signed by

1. Gyani Iqbal Singh Ji
Jathedar,
Takhta Sri Harmandir Saheb Ji,
Patna Saheb (Bihar)

2. Gyani Mal Singh Ji,
Jathedar,
Takht Sri Keshgarh Saheb,
Sri Anandpur Saheb

3. Gyani Gurmukh Singh Ji,
Jathedar,
Takhta Sri Damdama Saheb,
Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda)

4. Gyani Gurbachan Singh Ji,
Jathedar,
Sri Akal Takht Saheb,
Sri Amritsar

5. Gyani Raghbir Singh Ji,
Granthi,
Sachkhand Sri Harmandir Saheb,
Sri Darbar Saheb (Sri Amritsar)

 

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