Sikhism evolved out of years of exposure to the two major religions in 15th-century India: Hinduism and Islam. To this day, it is still not as widespread as other world religions including Hinduism and Islam. In the U.K., however, the population of each of these religions numbers close to each other, ranking next to Christianity in these proportions: Islam (2.7 percent), Hinduism (1.5 percent), and Sikhism (0.8 percent).
With the population of these three religions being almost equal, it is quite easy for the uninitiated to mistake one for the other. In many cases, addressing the wrong faith can be deemed highly disrespectful. While Sikhism may have retained some Hindu and Islamic teachings, it has its own stamp on several practices, including the wedding ceremony. Reputable Asian wedding photography services understand this, and ensure that they make a clear distinction.
Sikh and Hindu marriages are exclusive only to couples within the same religion. The difference is that Hindu couples must belong to the same caste, whereas Sikh couples don’t need to. Although Sikhism has its own caste system, it’s not used as a factor in choosing a spouse.
Anand Karaj is the term for a Sikh wedding. Vivah Sanskar is the term for sacraments done at a Hindu wedding.
Dowry is prohibited in Sikhism, but is a significant factor in Hinduism. In Sikhism, the union between a man and a woman is treated as sacred, outside of financial domains. The spiritual bonding that takes place in a Sikh marriage is described in this excerpt from an article by BBC contributor Gurmukh Singh:
“Sikh husband-wife love is modelled on the love between human soul and the Supreme Soul as described in the four lavan (hymns composed by the Fourth Guru in the Suhi raag section of Guru Granth Sahib). […]The Anand marriage is a sacrament and no document is necessary.”
An upcoming marriage may be identified as a Sikh one just by looking at the names of the betrothed. The man would usually have “Singh” for surname, and the woman, “Kaur”. However, these names may also be used as the middle name, followed by a different surname.
There are many other differences between Sikh and Hindu weddings, and one of the important things guests and crew should be familiar with are the terms used in the ceremonies. Asian wedding photography services, such as Pixcellence Photography, take the time to learn these terms to respond to customs accordingly.
(Source: Sikh weddings: Anand Karaj, BBC)