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Navrup Kaur: Put More Emphasis On A Marriage And The Anand Karaj Than On A Wedding And A Party
Through Sikhi Marriage Week we want to make people aware of things they should consider before their wedding
May 15, 2021 | 4.5 min. read | Opinion
For a community known for grand lavish weddings, marriage itself is criminally under-discussed by Sikhs.
This thought is at the heart of why we at SHARE, with support from Basics of Sikhi, Sikh Your Mind, Khalsa Foundation, and The Sikh Press Association, run #SikhiMarriageWeek as an annual campaign, which concludes on May 16.
When we started SHARE (Sikh History & Religious Education) charity to further Sikh education (most notably through the Sikhi To The Max app), we never envisaged focusing on marriage. However, our sevadaars soon found people coming forward to us with marriage issues. These people did not want to go to other services for support. They also did not want to reveal their issues to their families. They were looking for Sikh-centred support and we realised this was a need of the community not being served.
With this in mind, we decided to work on building a framework of support for the community. Our first step in doing this was to get as much information as possible on Sikh marriages, including what people felt they were doing well and what they felt they struggled with, considering both the past and present, with the aim of changing our future.
We did this through a survey on marriage. Through the responses, we realised that there were aspects of marriage that may have come as a shock to couples because they were not being discussed openly within the community. This is what led to the creation of Sikhi Marriage Week.
So what problems do we have when it comes to marriage?
Often Sikhs can put more emphasis on a wedding than a marriage.
Through Sikhi Marriage Week we want to make people aware of things they should consider before their wedding.
Instead of only thinking about décor and what our guests will eat on the wedding day, we want people to start thinking about what the Anand Karaj means to them, what does it mean to stand before Guru Granth Sahib Ji and make a vow, what it means to make a commitment to Guru as a couple. Will we be mindful at that moment, taking in the words of Lavaan and the atmosphere during this blissful union, or will we be thinking about our pictures and the reception party? We want people to start their marriage right, mentally and spiritually.
However, Sikhi Marriage Week is not just for couples looking to get or recently married. It is also for longer married couples and singletons too.
No matter how long a couple has been together, problems are inevitable, so we need to normalise talking through what problems can occur. If we treat problems as taboo subjects they can escalate to such a degree that we end up at the point of no return. Along with encouraging dialogue to help this, we are also helping to create somewhere for our community to turn in such a situation. This is where an organisation like Sikh Your Mind is vital, with their network of psychologists and other relevant professionals. Along with their support, the likes of Basics of Sikhi and Khalsa Foundation provide frameworks for spiritual guidance in such situations.
At SHARE we also feel parents should be speaking to our children about the relationship aspect of marriage from a young age. We may tell them they may one day get married but if we do not teach children that means accommodating, compromising, and serving another, we are not giving them the tools to maintain a harmonious relationship.
When it comes to Sikhs still looking for partners, having an understanding of marriage beforehand will only help one’s future. If I was to give anyone looking for a partner for marriage advice, I would say it is important to know what you want in terms of values and attributes but also be open to compromise. When we are searching for a partner our insecurities can really come to the forefront, and this is why spaces to learn what we really want in a partner are important.
In looking into all of the above regarding marriage, we also bring forward discussion and further insight into divorce. We have a specific survey on divorce and we use our findings to work towards educating people on the causes. Ideally, we want to provide couples with the tools to deal with issues before it leads to divorce, although we of course recognise not every relationship is meant to be.
Although we want people to think beyond their weddings, #SikhiMarriageWeek is not a campaign against lavish weddings. We would never advocate things like dowry and parties with alcohol but people are free to do what they want. What we do push as part of Sikhi Marriage Week is for Sikhs to put at least as much focus as any other part of a wedding on the Anand Karaj itself.
The short-term goal for #SikhiMarriageWeek is to provide support to anyone having any kind of marriage issue right now. The long-term aim for us is to teach children what it takes to have a successful marriage.
Ultimately, we know such outcomes are in Guru’s hands.
If you are reading this, we encourage you to take part in #SikhiMarriageWeek. Share the content, share your own thoughts and let’s get more Sikhs talking about marriage.
Navrup Kaur is a married mother of four known for her @SikhMum Instagram account and one of the leads of the #SikhiMarriageWeek campaign.
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