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Sikh Women Hold Anand Karaj And Act As Priests

LUDHIANA – In a step towards gender equality in religious matters, women acted as priests and conducted the Anand Karaj to solemnise the marriage of two Namdhari couples. The ceremony in Sirsa was performed in the presence of Thakur Dalip Singh, the elder brother of Namdhari sect head Satguru Uday Singh.

Arvinder Singh of the Namdhari Panthak Ekta said Amritsar’s Daljit Singh tied the nuptial knot with Amandeep Kaur of Ajnala and Madhya Pradesh’s Dharam Singh with Hardeep Kaur, also from MP.

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Dr Balwinder Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, Ludhiana, praising the initiative, said it would redefine the role of women in society, “although there is no restriction on women conducting the Anand Karaj ceremony”.

The wedding rituals of the Namdharis are akin to that of the Hindus. The couple, attired in all white,  circumambulate around the sacred fire (havan) four times amid recitation of hymns from the Adi Granth. Thakur Dalip Singh, addressing his followers after the wedding ceremony, called it a “historical and revolutionary step towards women empowerment”, while urging the gathering to eliminate differences owing to caste and to opt for inter-caste marriages.

“Members of our sect are strictly forbidden from hosting a reception party and accepting gifts from relatives and friends. There is no dowry. The bride does not take anything with her to the in-laws’ house. We solemnise marriages en masse, at a cost equivalent to Re 1.20, ” explained Arvinder Singh, who runs the Namdharis’ religious awareness programme in Punjab.

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