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Sikh wedding 'clean-up' is easier said than done

Many Sikhs feel DSGMC diktat that weddings be kept simple is not democratic and enforceable, reports Vidya Krishnan.
Hindustan Times | By Vidya Krishnan, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 30, 2007 03:20 AM IST

Dislodging the big fat Punjabi wedding is not going to be easy for the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) that tried to discipline the community by issuing a diktat banning non-vegetarian food and alcohol at Sikh weddings.

The committee had threatened that marriage certificates would not be issued to couples who do not keep their weddings a simple affair, but it did not cut ice with everyone in the community.

"If the gurdwara refuses to give us marriage certificates, we can still get a legal tag for our weddings by registering them at the office of the area Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM),” said Parminder Singh, Mayur Vihar resident. Singh says the committee’s diktat is undemocratic.

Legal eagles say DSGMC’s appeal is only advisory in nature. The committee could neither ban drinks/food nor hold back marriage certificates, said senior advocate Tarun Gomber. “The committee can only appeal to people, and this appeal has no legal binding," he added.

While DSGMC thinks simple weddings are needed to fight dowry and foeticide, some like Gurdeep Singh Garha of Gurgaon beg to differ. "Our weddings are about good food and great times. Even though DSGMC’s intent is good, the method is not. They cannot put a blanket ban like this,” said Garha.

DSGMC issued an order on Saturday asking the Sikhs in Delhi to keep their weddings simple by solemnising them at a gurdwara, instead of hosting elaborate functions.

The committee is roping in all gurdwaras and Singh Sabhas in the Capital to drive this message home to the Sikh community. "We are very confident that the Sikh community will welcome our decision. This is what the majority of the Sikh community wanted and we are expecting that over 95 per cent of weddings which would be solemnised in the future will stick to the prescribed norms,” said committee president Paramjit Singh Sarna.

Garha of Gurgaon, however, points out, "In weddings that are solemnised in gurdwaras, no one serves non-vegetarian food or alcohol in any case. That’s what makes this ban look pointless.”

DSGMC has now added that all Sikh weddings should be solemnised in gurdwaras. “All gurdwaras will be announcing these decisions twice a day so that every Sikh in Delhi is aware of these norms,” added Sarna.

“I would like to have an elaborate marriage for my daughter. I could understand banning liquor but saying that non-vegetarian food is off-limits is not democratic. And people have to understand that dowry and foeticide are not happening because people eat good food at a wedding, it is more about the mentality. The committee has got its basics wrong,” said Jyoti Duggal, the mother of a bride-to-be.

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