Festivals: Paths to Unity
Festivals play a significant role among all religions, but especially among Hindu and Sikh traditions. Every religion has numerous festivals (rituals), but what is the point of having such ceremonies? I believe festivals play an important role in religious life because they are the gateways to unity and peace, as well as love and friendship. Rituals bring forward the feelings of unity and devotion at the same time, therefore, emphasizing the need for religious ceremonies. It is during festivals that people come together as a community and light the flames of devotion in their hearts. I feel that it is during their participation in religious festivals when ...view middle of the document...
In fact, if someone was to visit India for the very first time, the first thing theyâ€™ll notice is that there is at least one sweets restaurant pretty much on every street. Apart from sweets, festivals are celebrated with colours, fireworks, candles, diyas, and lights can be found everywhere. It truly is a beautiful site.
In a similar fashion, Sikhism also celebrates its festivals with fireworks, sweets and a feeling of togetherness. However, what I feel distinguishes Hindu festivals from Sikh are that Hindu festivals are by far celebrated on a much more grand scale. Whereas all the cities are lighted up and pretty much the entire population of India taking in part in them, I feel Sikh festivals are more â€˜simple.â€™ Also, whereas Hindu festivals are predominately celebrated at home and in the community, Sikh festivals include going to the Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship).
While my time in India, I have attended many Hindu marriages. I wanted to personally witness the similarities and differences among a Sikh and Hindu marriage so I asked the Granthi (head priest of a Gurdwara) how I can witness a Sikh marriage without being invited. The Granthi told me that Sikh marriages are all held at the Gurdwara, where everyone is welcome, regardless of race, colour or religion. The Gurdwara I visited was the Dixie Gurdwara and they hold marriages every Saturday and Sunday.
After watching the Sikh marriage, I must say that it was quite different from a Hindu marriage, but it did retain some similarities. First of all, the marriage started very early. In fact, it ended right at noon. The Sikh marriage first commenced with the Granthi reading some passages from the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh Holy book). These passages were specifically for Sikh marriages. Then after that, the bride and groom had to encircle the Guru Granth Sahib four times, sitting at the end of each completed circle for additional marriage prayers. The ragees (who perform the kirtan) sang a passage from the Guru Granth Sahib the entire time the bride and groom were encircling the Sikh holy book. Then afterwards, the groom puts the necklace on the bride, and the marriage ends.
The Hindu marriage is exceedingly similar in many ways. First of all, like the Granthi, a pundit (priest) commences the Hindu marriage with the recitation of marriage prayers from the Rig Veda. After that, the parents of the bride and groom perform many small rituals, most important being Kanyadan (means donating the daughter to someone else). Then right after the vows, the groom puts the Mangalsutra (sacred marriage necklace) on the bride, which also happens in the Sikh marriage but itâ€™s not called a Mangalsutra, instead itâ€™s called a Mohra. Then both the bride and groom put flower garlands on each other. Just as Sikhâ€™s go around the Guru Granth Sahib, Hindus encircle a fire (represents God) seven times. Finally the wedding ceremonies end with the groom putting the sindoor (red powder) in the...