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Raju Chadha leads efforts to make Sikh weddings simple and low cost

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Dr Raju Chadha, chairman of the Wave Group, played a major role in the making of the resolution.

Dr-Raju-Chadha
Dr Raju Chadha, the man behind the resolution, at the Golden Temple

In a landmark decision that will have wide ramifications for the Sikh community in India and abroad, the top five Sikh priests passed a historic resolution, late last year, to make major reforms in Sikh weddings and other religious ceremonies.

The resolution, passed on December 12, 2016, aims to bring back simplicity into the ceremonies and reduce financial burdens on families, thus bringing them closer to the core values of the religion, which has millions of followers globally, including North America.

Dr Raju Chadha, chairman of the Wave Group, played a major role in the making of the resolution. A successful entrepreneur and philanthropist, Chadha took initiative in the drafting of the resolution, especially the first point that calls for simplifying the process of wedding invitations. (see box for details)

In an interview, Chadha explained the point that urges the members of the community to use modern communication methods for the distribution of wedding cards. “A lot of time and money is spent by families in distributing the cards door to door to their relatives and friends. This can be simplified if the cards are sent by courier or e-mail or whatsapp messenger. This will save a lot of time, money and energy of many people,” Chadha said.

Chadha took the initiative a few years ago when he broached the topic with the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC). His initiative bore fruit late last year when the five Singh Sahiban — Gyani Iqbal Singh of Patna Saheb (Bihar), Gyani Mal Singh of Sri Anandpur Saheb, Gyani Gurmukh Singh of Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), Gyani Gurbachan Singh of Sri Akal Takht Saheb, and Gyani Raghbir Singh of Sri Darbar Saheb (Amritsar) – collectively passed the resolution in December 2016. (The title Gyani is an honorific address for a Punjabi scholar.) The resolution will be made public soon. (see the photo of the original resolution in Punjabi)

“This is really a historical development as the resolution has been passed by all the five Singh Sahiban. In our Sikh history, the Singh Sahiban have a very prominent role as they had baptised Guru Gobind Singh ji. Now, as all of them have collectively passed the resolution, the Sikh community will take it very seriously,” Chadha added.

Chadha’s association with this historic move is not a coincidence. His family, known across the country for their business and philanthropic work, have been a pioneer in the field of community reforms too. Recalling the marriage of his elder sister in 1976, Chadha said that his father and father-in-law of his sister took lead in organizing the wedding in day time – to cut the costs and to make it simple.

“Now almost 95 percent of Sikh weddings take place in day time but in 1976 it was a novelty and we are proud to have set this trend,” said Chadha, adding that lavish weddings are a big problem for more than 70 percent of families who can’t afford them but are forced to do so under social pressure. “For 10 percent of rich families, big weddings are not an issue. For 10 to 15 percent of poor families, it doesn’t matter. But for the majority of the people in the middle, it is a big problem. That’s why it is important to perform weddings in a Gurdwara [temple] in the traditional and simple way.”

With this objective in mind, the resolution says that the five Singh Sahiban expect the “Sikh Sangat to solemnise Anand Karaj, the marriage ceremony, in a gurdwara. Both the girl’s and boy’s side should reach the gurdwara on time to perform the ceremony. If possible, the wedding should be followed by langar [food] in the Gurdwara itself.”

The resolution, which will be made public soon also calls for other ceremonies like Bhog to be performed keeping in mind the time and cost factor. “In accordance with the Rahat Maryada, the core conduct of the Sikhs, all functions should be kept very simple, so that minimum expenditure is incurred,” says the last point of the resolution which will have a major impact on the community in the coming years.

Chadha said, “We all are equal irrespective of our castes and social status. We, as a community, need to reaffirm this core value, and this can be done if more weddings are performed at Gurdwaras and with simplicity. This will also bring the community together.”