OUtdoor Sikh wedding, not in the Gurdwara. THey put a sub-flooring so their guests would be comfortable.

Tips for A Non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj

Updated: March 2020

Sikh maryada, usually calls for the Anand Karaj ceremony to take place in a Gurdwara. However, some couples opt to complete the ceremony in other venues for a variety of reasons, including:

  • space capacity
  • desire to be outdoors
  • desire to have a baraat (some Gurdwaras don’t allow dancing on premises)
  • destination weddings where Gurdwaras are not easily accessible

In this article, Tips for a Non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj, we will share ideas and examples of how other couples have planned a non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj. We hope it’s helpful as you plan your wedding. 

{Videos of Non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj Wedding Ceremonies}

Videos: Robles Video Productions

{Find a Granthi}

  • Our first tip for a non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj is to find a Granthi who will perform the ceremony. Not all will. For example there are Granthi’s in Southern California that will, but in Northern California, most couples fly in a Granthi from Vancouver. 
Non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj on the beach in Phuket, Thailand.
Anand Karaj on the beach in Phuket, Thailand

{Arrange a Sub-flooring for Outdoor Ceremonies: Grass, Concrete, Indoor Ceremonies}

The second most important tip for a non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj is to arrange sub-flooring for outdoor ceremonies, you’re going to need some type of sub-flooring so your guests are comfortable and not sitting directly on the grass, or concrete – this will vary by venue.

Anand Karaj Ceremony on a Lawn. Talk to your decor vendor about the best material based on your venue. At the wedding, below the flooring was arranged by the Pink Rock Events as well as KUMBA Entertainment. It was made of plywood and covered with carpet. Keep-in-mind that some venues may charge extra or have time restrictions on how long the flooring can be laid down. For instance, this venue pictured here had strict time restrictions as they were worried about the flooring damaging their grass. As soon as (and I mean AS SOON AS) the ceremony finished the venue’s staff was there to oversee removal of the flooring.

Seating for an outdoor Anand Karaj.
Decorated canopy and guest seating area at an outdoor Sikh wedding ceremony in Southern California. Photo: Greycard Photography

The venue mentioned above stopped watering that area 24 hours prior to the wedding. This was that venue’s first time doing a wedding ceremony with this kind of flooring. Yay to them for being open minded!

Outdoor Anand Karaj Ceremony on concrete. At this venue they laid down sheets on the concrete and arranged large sized individual gaddas (cushioning) for guests to sit on.

Seated on the concrete with cushioned pillows for a non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj.
Individual gaddas arranged for guests to sit on during an outdoor Anand Karaj.

Anand Karaj indoors. If you’re having an indoor Anand Karaj that is not at a Gurdwara, you can opt for guests to sit directly on the carpet – assuming a ballroom with carpet.

Indoor Anand Karaj at a hotel.
At this Anand Karaj at a hotel, the guests are seated on sheets laid down on top of the ballroom carpet. Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography
Anand Karaj ceremony at a San Diego resort.
Anand Karaj ceremony in San Diego, California. The guests are seated on sheets on the floor at the venue. Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography
Non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj in Huntington Beach, California.
At this Anand Karaj on a lawn, they laid down a silver tarp flooring. Photo: Aaron Eye Photography

{Designate a Place/Area For Shoes}

Designate a place for shoes. You don’t want your elegant and beautiful ceremony (and photos) to be tainted by shoes all over the place. Bring in some racks or shelving where guests can place them. 

Bridesmaids and the bride about to enter the Anand Karaj on the beach in Phuket, Thailand.

The ideas and tips from this point, apply to Anand Karaj ceremonies regardless of whether they’re in a Gurdwara or not.

{Arrange Rumaals and Extra Dupattas To Be Distributed}

Men wearing rumaals during an outdoor Anand Karaj in Phuket, Thailand.
Rumaals and dupattas were distributed to guests that matched the overall wedding decor. Notice here, that the guests are seated on a lawn and rather large gaddas. Off to the sides you can see some elderly uncles seated in chairs – a nice gesture for anyone that cannot sit on the floor, gaddas, or needs back support.

Bring a Scarf or Handkerchief: Remind them to bring a scarf for women and handkerchiefs for men to cover their head or even better arrange rumaals and extra dupattas (handkerchiefs and scarves) to be distributed. There may be some guests who are unfamiliar with the customs or that simply forgot to bring their handkerchief or scarf that day. Arrange to have these available for guests. Think of it as an opportunity to color coordinate them with your decor colors. As you can see when everyone is ‘matchy matchy’ the photos look great!

{Provide Some Chair Seating}

In the photos above and below, you’ll see the elderly seated on chairs. It’s a thoughtful gesture to have some chairs around the perimeter of the ceremony, for those that have difficulty sitting on the floor.

{Work With a Decorator to Setup a Canopy}

If you’re getting married during summer, in particular, it’s nice to arrange a canopy to shield guests from the sun. Heat causes people to feel tired and sleepy, and rather than enjoy your wedding, they’ll just want to leave. A good canopy can get pricey and cost anywhere from $4,000-$10,000.

Outdoor Sikh wedding at Pelican Hill Resort
Anand Karaj ceremony at Pelican Hill Resort. Photo: Lin & Jirsa Photography

Real Story. At one Indian wedding during peak summer, it was about 100 degrees outside. They had a canopy, similar the one pictured below with strips of cloth – but it was flimsy and the ever so slight breeze moved the strips of fabric throughout the ceremony, causing, big gaps in the canopy. The sun was beating down so harshly coupled with wearing heavy Indian clothes and jewelry, that many guests left the ceremony.

{Ask Your Venue To Setup Water Stations}

Our final tip for a non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj is to have the venue setup fruit infused water stations near the ceremony venue. If it’s a hot day you may consider serving kulfi or ice cream before the ceremony starts. Or other finger foods.

Serving Baskin Robbins at an outdoor Indian wedding on a hot day. Photo: Braja Mandala Photography
Indian wedding samosas single served on cups

These next few tips aren’t restricted to a non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj but are more general for guests that are attending your wedding and unfamiliar with Sikh customs and etiquette.

{Educate Those That Are Unfamiliar: What To Wear and What Not To Wear}

What To Wear/What Not To Wear: Don’t wear clothes where your body will be exposed – sleeveless, legs showing, strapless. Include any details about what to wear, what not to wear, and how many outfits they’ll need. If you really wanna make an impression, send links or info where they can buy or rent Indian clothes or if you have any friends that are willing to let your guests borrow some.

{Educate: What To Expect at a Sikh Wedding}

What to Expect: Explain what they can expect during the ceremony: what will happen before i.e. there’s a baraat (groom’s procession) where everyone will dance, so come prepared to have fun and wear comfortable shoes!, how long the ceremony will be, what will happen after the ceremony (food, games, vidai). And then explain what happens after that, for example everyone heads to the reception or everyone leaves the venues and returns in the evening for cocktail hour and the reception. Include whether or not they should change and if so what the dress code is.

Food and Drink: Educate guests on what to expect in terms of food and drink – what meal(s) will be served, will it be all vegetarian or vegetarian and non-vegetarian? Will it all be North Indian cuisine? Also include whether the food will be spicy. Your guests will REALLY appreciate this. As there are some people who are not familiar with Indian cuisine.

Ceremony Dos, Dont’s, and FYIs:

A. You will be required to remove your shoes to enter the Gurdwara (No Exceptions!)
B. You’ll be sitting on the floor, without a place to rest your back
C. It’s ok to get up and use the restroom during the ceremony

Help Getting Ready: If you’ve made arrangements for people to have their sari’s tied or dupattas draped, include that info as well.

How To Pronounce Gurdwara. Goor-d-waa-ra

Thoughtful Gesture: Another thing you could do is have chudiyan and bindis for the ladies and girls available to put on when they arrive for your ceremony. They will love it, have fun with it, and appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Why is this so important? Because of stories like this.

Real Story: I was attending an Anand Karaj in a Gurdwara and observed a non-Sikh, young woman who was embarrassed when she innocently placed a paper prayer book on the floor, vs. on top of a cloth on the floor. Someone pointed it out to her kinda harshly – a situation that could have been easily avoided if only she had been educated beforehand.

These are all things that anyone who has never been to a Sikh wedding or to a Gurdwara will be wondering. And you will be a truly excellent host and friend for anticipating your guests’ questions and getting ahead of them.

{Summary}

This article detailed tips for a non-Gurdwara Anand Karaj.

  • Find a Granthi
  • Arrange a Subflooring
  • Designate an area for shoes
  • Distribute rumaals and dupattas
  • Arrange some chairs for the elderly/anyone that can’t sit on the floor
  • Ask the venue to setup water stations

Additionally, we detailed a few tips for guests that are unfamiliar with Sikh wedding customs and etiquette:

  • What to Wear/not to wear
  • What to Expect at a Sikh wedding – how long it is, seated on the floor, food and drink, help getting ready if they want to wear Indian clothes and more.

We hope this article is helpful as you plan your wedding. Congratulations!

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