Sikh Code of Conduct and interfaith marriage issue in Swindon, UK – What is the reality?

In relation to Anand Karaj incident in Swindon 30th July, it is very disturbing how disgruntled members of the community are using this platform to grossly exaggerate events and tarnish the Sikh image in the media.

Facts and Time line of Events:

  1. Swindon Gurdwara’s 3 previous marriages have been put to question. Committee confirm 2 inter-faith marriages took place pre-2007, before Akaal Thakt issued clarification of Anand Karaj criteria. Since then one wedding took place where the bride had adopted the Sikh faith.
  2. The Anand Karaj maryada has been clearly on display outside the booking office in the Gurdwara for many years now.
  3. Harbhajan kaur Momi, the mother of the bride, booked this wedding by not declaring the Boys faith.
  4. The committee were made aware of the groom’s faith from 3rd parties some 4 weeks prior to the Anand Karaj date.
  5. Since then, dialogue between the committee & family to change arrangements have all failed, the family have refused to change plans, and have threaten to sue the Gurdwara.
  6. The family were contacted by senior members of the Sikh community, again there was a refusal to consider any options.
  7. A week before the Anand Karaj, 5 pyaareh (5 Beloved ones) gave a polite hukam (request) to the family to confirm the groom has adopted the Sikh faith, if not, they can still attend the Gurdwara on the day and do kirtan and Ardas to see their guests off.
  8. The resident Giani’s (priests) of the Gurdwara, refused to carry out the Anand Karaj on hearing this hukam from 5 Pyaare
  9. The family responded by saying they will bring their own Giani (priest).
  10. The Gurdwara do not have any knowledge of this new priest, his background or track record, therefore cannot allow an unknown person to take Sewa of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.
  11. On the day of the Anand Karaj, the President of The Gurdwara, the Vice President and Ex President were all present, along with senior members of the Sikh community from outside Swindon.
  12. The allegation of 40 men from Birmingham and Southall entering the Gurdwara has been grossly exaggerated. Many of these people were from Swindon and included a local football team, which included some non-sikhs too.
  13. The gates were closed by the President of the Gurdwara, who decided on the back of i) Marayada ii) Families aggressive attitude iii) Unknown person to take charge of the stage and sewa of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. iv) 5 pyaarey Hukam After consultation with the committee and senior members of the Community.
  14. The police arrived outside the gates shortly, the President said “I am in charge; we have decided to cancel a wedding. It is a private matter, it is a private property”
  15. Absolutely no member of the family came to the gurdwara. (neither did the groom) False reporting by the Sun “newspaper”
  16. Absolutely no violence, intimidation, or banter was present.
  17. The langur was served by the Gurdwara sewadars.
  18. Catering staff joined in with prayers, there was no intimidation what so ever.
  19. The Aunt and uncle of the Bride entered much later, they used abusive language to senior members of the community, but were allowed to release their frustration unchallenged.
  20. We can confirm the new priest who was called to do the Anad Karaj, was also lied to, and he had refused and went home straight away.

Quotes by:

Raghdir Bains: A radical who is disgruntled and has been sidelined by the community for his continuous defiance of allowing Meat and alcohol in Guruwara owned properties. This person has a track record of opposing orthodox Sikh teachings. He has previously resorted to violence and intimidation with elderly members of the community.

Dr Harbans Popli; Was not present on the day, has made a statement because of his close personal ties with the family and has only 2nd hand information via the family.

Biased Newspaper coverage:

“This is Wiltshire” Article: Grossly exaggerated and hugely offensive article based on one families interpretation of what took place. The family was not present at the Gurdwara, nor was the groom to have any first hand information. No interview with the management committee of the Gurdwara, why not?

Threats to kill: Completely unsubstantiated.

We can only conclude this is amateur reporter, Josh Layton does not have the experience and unable to report both sides of a story.

The Sun Article: based entirely on Josh Layton’s article, with even more exaggerated claims:

“This is Wiltshire” Article: “We had a caterer in charge of the breakfast. They ate all the food and then told him ‘go or we’ll kill you’ – Referring to the Caterer

The Sun Article: “They ate all the food and then told him (the groom) ’go or we’ll kill you’. – The Groom was not even present

This is comical one sided reporting – We urge the media to be responsible in their reporting

Sikh leaders have confirmed they are in dialogue with the police and no threats or intimidation have been report. The police confirm it was a private function, on private property, cancelled by the management.

The Anand Karaj ceremony is a Sikh specific ceremony and interfaith marriages via Anand Karaj is against the Sikh code of conduct.

This does not mean Sikh’s object to inter faith marriages or choices people make in the personal lives, via any other means. Court Marriages etc.

The Sikh Code of Conduct is quite clear, and vast majority of Gurdwaras abide by it.

Source: Sikh Youth bodies UK


Q: What are Sikh beliefs on Inter-Faith marriage?

A: Sikh Gurus showed a lifestyle which one can follow to meet God. It is better to get married to someone with whom you share similar beliefs than to marry out of religion. Sikhism does not state that marrying out of religion is wrong or a sin. However, the marriage has a far better chance of success if the couple belongs to the same religion. Since beliefs can differ and can cause conflicts, it is better to be with someone with the same belief system.

The more a married couple has in common, the more likely their marriage will be successful. When a couple disagrees on basic core values and beliefs, it can lead to additional stress, conflicts, and disappointment. The issue of how kids are raised can be especially problematic. The decision regarding which teaching and beliefs should the children be taught can become difficult to deal with.

Sikhism is a modern religion, and instructs that all humans are created equal. In no way Sikhism states that one should not marry another human because they are less of human or inferior. All humans are equal but people from different religions have different beliefs. The difference in beliefs system and lifestyle is the main reason to marry within the religion.

A Sikh can get married out of the religion if they choose to, however they cannot do so in the Gurdwara Sahib since Anand Karaj (Sikh Marriage Ceremony) is very spiritual, religious and a promise with God.

In order to live a peaceful lifestyle to accomplish the purpose of the human life, one should get married to a Sikh so that the couple can together carry on their journey on the path showed by Sikh Gurus.


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