Saturday, December 6, 2014

Walking side-by-side : Unconventioal Sikh wedding ceremony symolising Gender Equality

Shawn Singh Tucker and Baljit “Bally” Kaur Lehal walked  together side-by-side  around the Guru Granth Sahib during their marriage ceremony  in Atlanta, GA :visual indication of Egalitarianism in Sikhism

Someone would call this act unusual. Some would call it controversial while others might call it awesome. Regardless of one’s opinion, the bride-and-groom walking side by side around the Guru Granth Sahib (as opposed to the more common groom in front of the bride) is definitely an unconventional act.The couple thought about To do their Anand Karaj in this way so it would embody the Sikh spirit of equality more visibly.

“As a kid, when I watched my cousin sister get married, it didn’t make sense to me that the bride walked behind the groom,” said Shawn. “I wondered ‘If men and women are equal in Sikhi, like my parents keep telling me, why is it this way?’ From then on, I knew I wanted to try something different.” 

“In Sikhi, marriage is one of the biggest public statements that you make. Sadly, in our society men always come before women; men are central and public. But in Sikhi, we are supposed to be equal so, it really bothered me that our most sacred religious ceremony put the man first,” said Shawn. “Plus, I’ve told all my non-Sikh friends that equality is a core Sikh value so if they were to see me walking in front, it would be really hypocritical. It would make no sense.”

“I agreed with what Shawn was saying,” said Bally. “I was really supportive of his thoughts. Many people said we couldn’t do it side-by-side because it’s against tradition, but doing something simply because ‘it’s tradition’ doesn’t make sense. You need to know the logic behind it.”

Bally added, “We never got anywhere by following the rules. Guru Nanak broke every norm and questioned everything. That’s how Sikhi came about, by challenging the status quo. So, why should we stop now? Why shouldn’t we question things that don’t make sense?”

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