December 24, 2017


What is the first thing you think of? White dress? Altar? Church?
Indian Weddings. What is the first thing you think of? Red dress? Bollywood music? Elephants?
Punjabi Weddings? Alcohol. Yup, that's what I thought. SMH (Shaking my head)

Anand Karaj. Bliss, peace, harmony, 1 soul - two bodies, Guru, Gurudwara, Hukam, Lavaan. Waheguru!
Sikh wedding - What do you think of?
Is it an Anand Karaj? Is it a Punjabi Wedding? Is it an Indian Wedding? Is it all of the above?
Is it spending ridiculous amounts of money?

indian-pocket-wedding-invitation6 (374K)

In 2014, Fortune published this: "The average American wedding costs $29,000 and has 140 guests, according to The average cost of an Indian wedding in the U.S. is $65,000 with 500 guests." I think they were mistaken because further down in that same article I read this. . . .

". . . a wedding planner who does high-end events, pegs the average cost at $200,000. A typical Indian wedding has at least four events and requires 15 to 20 vendors. By comparison, an average American wedding normally consists of a ceremony and reception requiring four to seven vendors."

And one year later. . . .

In 2015, the Washington Post published this: "The average cost of an Indian wedding in the United States is expected to hit $250,000 this year, roughly 10 times the national average, according to Indian Weddings Magazine, a San Francisco-based publication."

I believe it.

Every year we come up with more and more ideas to make our weddings fancier, and flashier (is that a word?), and more extravagant!

While growing up, on one of my many visits to India, I remember being at a street market in Mumbai and all of a sudden an elephant randomly walked down the road. Yes, randomly! There was no event or anything. And every one acted completely normal while here I was taking pictures because this was the most amazing thing I had ever seen in my life. I get it. In India, they have elephants, horses, cows, and all sorts of animals walking around the streets galore. So to hop on one at the time of a wedding is not a big deal over there. But here in America, we spend $13,000 to hire an elephant. Why? We don't have elephants walking down our streets!

I kind of get it. An elephant is a symbol of power and royalty. I'm pretty sure that all of the kings and queens in India back in the day rode elephants. Especially on their wedding day.

But, what disturbs me is this: A wedding is no longer just a wedding. For many people, a wedding is a means and a way for a family to show off their wealth to the community. The intention of the wedding loses its original purpose. It is no longer about the commitment that the couple want to make to each other and their Guru. It is about practicing their first dance at the reception for weeks and months but then getting up at Gurudwara and going the wrong way when circling the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. It is about abandoning their hometown and the Gurudwara they grew up in, in order to get married in some far off location like the Bahamas. It is about hiring makeup artists from another country and flying them in on business class. It is about inviting hundreds of people that they don't even know or talk to or like and feeding them until their buttons pop. Ironic isn't it? Especially since our roots come from one of the most impoverished countries in the world.

Look, if you have the money, go for it. It is the most important day of your life and you want it to be beautiful. I understand. I am not trying to be your financial analyst. I just spent over $1k on a phone! But, wouldn't that money be better spent on something else? Like, a house? A car? A traveling honeymoon around the world? An investment? A savings bond? For yourselves and possibly your future kids? Or how about some adequate health insurance (depending on who our current president is)?! A charity? An impoverished country with starving children and farmer suicides? An organization? A website? Like SikhNet for example. ;)

If you do not have the money and if you are taking out loans, putting your house up on a second mortgage, maxing out credit cards, borrowing money, or making demands to your in-laws because of the pressure to put on a grand event, something is seriously wrong there.

Your friends and family should give you blessings no matter how big or how small the event is. And you know what? Even if they are not invited, they should STILL give you blessings. I know that might sound a little crazy but just hear me out. . . .

Many years ago, a distant friend of mine was getting married. I say distant for a reason because we knew each other but we really didn't talk that much. Now, she was getting married and she didn't feel like inviting 500 or a 1000 people. Which is okay!!! I wasn't invited and I wasn't offended because I was not close to her. However, another distant friend didn't get an invitation either. This other distant friend called me up and literally started cursing the bride. She was absolutely furious. But then, about a week or two later, this same girl got an invitation in the mail. She happily went to the bride's wedding but then criticized everything about it.

So now it's my turn to curse. What the F*&%^$!!!!???????

Weddings are hard to plan! A million things could go wrong and a million things DO go wrong. But at the end of the day, if the bride and groom successfully got married, what is the big deal? Marriages are how communities come together and grow, yet we are making that growth harder on ourselves.

Another time, another friend of mine was getting married and while planning everything, the groom's father told the bride's father something along these lines: "The wedding must take place in my town because I know the entire community so there will be approximately 500 people and you will need to take care of that bill."

I am about to start cursing again but I'll bite my tongue. Luckily, the bride's father put his foot down and the wedding took place in the bride's town. Again, the groom's father was very concerned about the show of it all and his image in the community and he wanted to push his agenda on the bride's father financially, which in my opinion, is disgusting.

I understand wanting to invite all of your close friends and family. But does every single member of the community HAVE to come? If I came to your house for a kirtan a few years ago and we are now facebook friends, do you HAVE to invite me? NO! If I said hi to you 10 years ago in the parking lot of the Gurudwara, do you HAVE to invite me? NO! It's not a big deal. And upon hearing the news of your marriage, you deserve a blessing and well wishes from me. No matter what.

You should not have to spend 6 or 7 digits to get blessings.

Ohmygosh. One more example. (Yes, I have been to a lot of weddings! Although that will probably decrease dramatically after this blog, but that's okay. LOL!) This particular friend of mine actually did invite the whole community. The Gurudwara was packed. When I say packed, I mean there was literally no where to move. When I say packed, I mean when we did the Ardas, I almost fainted because there were so many people and it got so hot. I literally had to leave the divan hall and go outside otherwise I for sure would have fainted (But I am claustrophobic, so my bad). I missed the best part. A lot of people did. They all just couldn't fit!!!

Again, I understand. It's your money to do what you want. It's your occasion to do what you want. If you want to spend millions on your wedding, do it. But my request is to please, please, please. . . . .

Do not forget the Guru.

Do not forget the original intention of getting married. Do not forget to ask the Guru for guidance on this new journey. Nowadays people spend so much money on their wedding day only to spend twice or three times that amount on a divorce years later. Why? They lost focus. That's why.

I think we have to ask ourselves this: Why are we getting married? Is it to please others and put on this great show for our families and our friends and our community? Or is it to take that step of commitment to spend the rest of our lives with the person that we love?

In my opinion, a Sikh wedding is a commitment of marriage between a man and a woman AND a commitment for that man and woman to take to their Guru. Why else are we circling the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 4 times? Everything else is just extra. There is nothing wrong with all of the extra. But gosh, we focus so very much on the extra yet it is certainly not the extra that will make a marriage last. There is one thing however that will make a marriage last. . . . .

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji
Page 249, Line 18

ਵਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅੰਤਰਜਾਮੀ ਨਾਨਕ ਸੋਹਾਗੁ ਨ ਟਲਿਆ ॥੪॥੪॥੨॥੫॥੧੧॥
वरु पाइआ प्रभु अंतरजामी नानक सोहागु न टलिआ ॥४॥४॥२॥५॥११॥
var pā▫i▫ā parabẖ anṯarjāmī Nānak sohāg na tali▫ā. ||4||4||2||5||11||
I have obtained God, the Inner-knower, the Searcher of hearts, as my Husband; O Nanak, my marriage shall last forever. ||4||4||2||5||11||
Guru Arjan Dev

Bhull Chuk Maaf,
Miss Kaur

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