Sikh Wedding

Sikh-Punjabi Weddings Explained Part 1

Sikh Punjabi Weddings - Grewal Twins

These series of posts have been in the works for a while now and I’m glad that I can finally share with you all. I have wanted to share the traditions and customs that go into Punjabi and Sikh weddings, but felt I wasn’t qualified to write it. Which is why I reached out to the Grewal Twins after connecting with them after ‘that’ photo went viral. They are so lovely and we instantly connected, probably helps as we’re all twins! Over to Grewal Twins now…

Sikh-Punjabi weddings are synonymous the world over for being grand affairs with plenty of colour, plenty of festivities and plenty of guests!

In order to understand the intricacies and significance behind each custom and tradition, it’s important to note the differences between the terms ‘Sikh’ and ‘Punjabi’; one is a spiritual way of life and a major world faith, the other is a region in India with it’s own cultural beliefs and social customs.

The two terms are (excuse the pun) often ‘married’ together, simply because the Sikh faith originated in the land of Punjab, India.

Punjabi wedding


Sikhi (official term) or Sikhism (Western term) is one of the world’s youngest faiths, having emerged in the 15th Century in the agricultural state of Punjab, in the north-west of India. Sikhi is a faith that was ‘born’ as a response to the social injustices and religious hypocrisies prevalent at the time, which were practised and condoned by some faith leaders, priests and the community at large.

The word ‘Sikh’ is a Punjabi language word meaning ‘Learner’, and is someone who believes in One Immortal Creator, recognises the entire human race as One, and believes in social equality; therefore refraining from discriminating between gender, caste, race, ethnicity or any other means of identification.

Grewal Twins


A Punjabi is someone who can trace his or her ancestry, heritage or roots to India’s agricultural north-western state, Punjab (which means, ‘Land of the Five Rivers’).

The actual term for the Sikh wedding ceremony is ‘Anand Kaaraj’ (explained below). Nowadays, many Punjabi customs and traditions have found their way into the Sikh wedding ceremony, and so blurring the lines between culture and faith.

Please note that traditions can also differ from one family to another, in terms of which cultural practices they choose to include or not. In our own family, when I got married (and when my sisters were married), we chose to omit many of the Punjabi Cultural pre-wedding ceremonies (Chunni/Roka and Kurmai) and  amended other customs based on our personal view that these ceremonies and customs were not relevant to our situation.

Punjabi bride

Punjabi Cultural Pre-Wedding Ceremonies

Kurmai (Official Engagement between the two families)

This often taken place a few weeks before the Anand Kaaraj ceremony. In some cases, we’ve even seen this carried out just moments before the Anand Kaaraj itself. In this ceremony, the Bride’s family bring dry fruits or Ladoo (Indian Sweets) as an auspicious offering to the Groom’s family home, and sometimes gifts in the form of money and gold jewellery. Collectively, the offering is known as Shagan. Just a note: whenever you pay a visit to an Indian home, it’s customary to take something edible with you, in the form of sweets or dry fruits.

The Groom’s sisters (or other female relatives) place one end of the Palla (ceremonial stole) over his shoulder and the other end in his lap. The Bride’s family will then place the money, sweets and gold gifts in the Groom’s Palla, after which he will then be fed one sweet date (this offering is called, Shawara) by a senior male member of the Bride’s family. This symbolises that the Bride’s family accepts the marriage between their daughter and the Groom-to-be.

Grewal Twins

Traditionally (as in, way back in the day), the Bride’s family took gifts of gold and dry fruits only, instead of Ladoo with them. Also, the Kurmai took place two or three years before the wedding and it was only the men of the Bride’s family who made this journey to the Groom’s home – who would have most likely lived in a village far from the Bride’s own village. The women stayed behind for their own safety, so as to avoid the risk of being captured by bandits.

With the lack of bandits in the diaspora, the journey to the Groom’s home is nowadays made by key male and female members of the Bride’s family; but not the Bride herself, who is advised to only meet her Groom-to-be (even if it’s a love marriage) on the day of the wedding itself.  Some Bride’s choose to dismiss this custom, and do meet their Groom-to-be in the lead-up to the wedding.

We chose to not include the Kurmai ceremony in it’s entirety when myself and my sisters were married. Instead, our immediate family paid a visit to the home of the Groom-to-be with dry fruits in tow, and were introduced to our respective Husband’s key family members. There was no Shawara, since all of my sister’s marriages were love marriages. We all agreed, as a family, that there was no need for anyone to ‘formally accept’ any of our marriages, and that everyone’s blessings were more than enough.

Read part two here and part three here.

Follow them on the web here: Website | Instagram: @sukhman_grewal @hernoor_grewal

Photography: Gurvir Johal | J Dhillon Photography | Kunaal Gosrani


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  • Reply curry June 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm


    • Raj
      Reply Raj June 5, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Glad you like David, thanks for stopping by.

  • Reply Paul June 8, 2017 at 10:28 am

    STUNNING. All of it!

    • Raj
      Reply Raj June 8, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      THANKS Paul!

  • Reply Jordan June 8, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Great Article.

  • Reply Scott Spencer-White June 14, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Interesting read & stunning images! – thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Sikh Punjabi Weddings Explained Part 2 | Secret Wedding Blog June 29, 2017 at 7:01 am

    […] by the lovely Grewal Twins. You can catch the first segment explaining the difference between Punjabi and Sikh weddings here. Diving straight in, over to the […]

  • Reply Sikh-Punjabi Weddings Explained Part 3 | Secret Wedding Blog July 27, 2017 at 7:01 am

    […] Sikh-Punjabi weddings series with the final part – the Anand Karaj. You can catch up with the first post here and the second post […]

  • Reply LaLawns August 3, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Thanks for your beautiful site. This is the best place for wedding.

  • Reply John Lee August 17, 2017 at 7:52 am

    This is so beautiful inspiration!

  • Reply Tanya August 23, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    Such stunning photos! I always find it so confusing what the difference between a Sikh and Punjabi Wedding is. Now I realise thats because they are all mostly Punjabi-Sikh Weddings rather than one or the other. Thanks for sharing.

    The White Punjabi Bride

  • Reply Jasreen September 6, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Being born and raised in India and blindly just following the traditions, I seldom thought of why’s and what’s until just recently when my own wedding might be happening soon. This was a beautiful piece and these traditions make a lot more sense <3 Loved it! Thank you so much for writing and sharing 🙂

  • Reply Official Marj Engagement | Secret Wedding Blog February 13, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    […] started off with the kurami ceremony (which can be explained here) where both families offer baskets of fruits and sweets to each other. Ours were wonderfully put […]

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