Can a Sikh marry someone who is not a Sikh?
Can a Sikh marry someone who is not a Sikh? Sure. A Sikh can marry whomever they want.
Can a Sikh do an Anand Karaj with someone who is not a Sikh? Ouch!!! I actually struggled with this one for a while. Please see my prior blog. ;) http://americanbornconfusedsikh.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-struggle.html
Yes, this struggle was real!
I struggled because deep down I knew the answer. I just didn’t know how to process it. And worse, I didn’t know how to explain it. But then, very recently, while at work, something clicked and it all came together.
For all of my readers who aren’t Sikh or Punjabi or Indian, a quick recap: an Anand Karaj is the Sikh marriage/wedding ceremony. It is when the bride and groom circle the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji (our holy scripture) 4 times while Gurbani is recited. It is very, very, very, meaningful and emotional for us. In our eyes, it is when two souls become one.
But before I dive into it, I’d like to give you all some Insurance 101. Why you ask? What does insurance have to do with anything? You’ll see. ;)
All of us have insurance (hopefully). All of us need insurance. When a person takes out an auto insurance policy for example, they are essentially signing a contract with an insurance company. The person agrees to pay a premium in exchange for financial protection in the event that they get into an accident. We have two parties involved in this contract. A. The person (a.k.a. the policy holder/the insured) B. The insurance company.
A. The insured has to fulfill their obligation in the contract by paying their insurance bill every month.
B. The insurance company has to fulfill their obligation in the contract by taking care of the insured from start to finish in the event of an accident.
These are the duties that both parties have towards each other in the contract. Got it? Good!
When starting a new insurance policy, the insured must provide their correct address, driver’s license info, date of birth, etc. . . etc. . . this is important because this is how the insurance company rates a policy. (I hope I’m not loosing you guys! I’m getting to the point soon, I promise!)
Let’s say the person lies about their address so that they can get a cheaper rate. For example, let’s say that when I start a new policy, I purposely lie about my address. Let’s say, I live in Los Angeles but on my insurance contract, I put down that I live in Bakersfield because I know I’m going to get a cheaper rate having a Bakersfield address. Months go by and I pay the insurance company every month. I pay them my cheaper Bakersfield rates and I’m one happy camper. And then one fine day, I’m driving on rodeo drive in Los Angeles and BAAAAMMMMM! I get into an accident.
Guess what? I’m not covered. The insurance company will deny my claim. Do you know why? They will see that I lied about my address on my original application. They will see that all of this time I have been paying a cheaper rate. Not only will they deny my claim, they will actually return all the money that I’ve paid and the policy/contract will be considered NULL AND VOID.
It’s called material misrepresentation.
Now, let’s come back to the Anand Karaj. Marriage is like a contract, wouldn’t you say? (My sister Mrs. Kaur shakes her head and smiles.) There are definitely duties and obligations that both parties have towards each other and there are duties and obligations they have to our Guru as well.
But first, why do we want to do this Anand Karaj ceremony so badly? Why???? Why can’t we dress up in our Indian clothes and jewelry and go to the courthouse and dance outside the courthouse? Why don’t we just get on our horses and elephants and play the dhol on the streets of downtown? Why even bother getting married at the Gurudwara?
It’s simple really. It’s all feelings and emotions. We want Guru Sahibs blessings. We believe in our Guru. We love our Guru. We would give our life for the Guru. I don’t care how little or how much we follow our religion. Those feelings are always there and they don’t go away. They can’t go away. Think about this for a second. When we approach our Guru on a random Sunday or when we take Amrit or when we get married, we bow down to our Guru. We don’t nod our head to the Guru. We don’t fold our hands and slightly tilt our back forward to our Guru. We drop them knees down to the floor. We bring our head down to the ground as a symbol of complete respect and submission to the Guru.
Now, if the person that we are marrying doesn’t feel that same way, if the person that we are marrying doesn’t believe in the Guru or have any feelings whatsoever for the Guru, then the act of bowing down to the Guru, the act of circling the Guru four times and saying that “Yes, myself and my partner will make you the center of our lives now”, that act of submission and reverence is considered null and void.
If someone has a different address or in this case, a different faith or a different belief and they perform this Anand Karaj act, then simply put, it is just that: an act.
If I sign up for a Geico policy, it is Geico that will be there for me when I get into an accident. Geico will take care of my vehicle. Geico will take care of the other vehicle that I hit. Geico will tow my vehicle away if it’s not driveable and yes, Geico will jumpstart my battery when I am stranded on the side of the road. When a couple performs the Anand Karaj, they are signing up for a Sikh Insurance policy. They are asking for the blessings and guidance of the Guru and the Sadh Sangat. This is a lifetime contract.
This particular topic has gotten a lot of controversy within our community. I've seen youtube videos, articles, and several posts and opinions about it. I've seen a lot of people say, "Well, this other person that doesn't belong to the Sikh religion acts better and a lot more "Sikh" than someone who does belong to the Sikh religion." Point noted, but point not related. Even if an Allstate policyholder pays their bill on time every month, Geico still will not pay for their claims or send them tow trucks or jumpstart their battery. And on the other hand, if a Geico policyholder pays their bill late every month and files multiple claims, guess what? They are STILL a Geico customer. Geico is going to take care of them and Geico is going to protect them even if they get sued no matter how "bad" of a customer they may be. The insurance contract was signed with Geico.
I know that this a tough pill to swallow. I know because love has no religion. You can fall in love with anyone at any time. You can and should spend the rest of your life with the person you love regardless of their religion. I’m not saying don’t marry that person. I’m saying, think twice before doing an Anand Karaj with that person. You can pay the Bhaisahibs (the priests) all of the money you want. You can decorate the Gurudwara and decorate yourselves and put on a lovely show. But at the end of the day, who are you really doing the Anand Karaj for?
Bhull Chuk Maaf