In Sikhism, marriage is obligatory for a Sikh. Sikhism rejects renunciation of the world. A Sikh must live the life of a householder. Except for unavoidable circumstances, a Sikh must not remain celibate. Sikhism does not deny the existence of a sexual being in a man:
There is no (so-called sacred) thread for sex organs
And there is no such thread for females
Because of this (sexual sins) man’s beard is ever spat upon
But, in Sikhism, marriage is not performed for gratification of sexual desire or for enjoyment of carnal pleasure. For a Sikh, a marriage partner is must in order to check him from committing sexual sins. Similarly, the purpose of marriage is not mere creation and upbringing of children.
According to Sikhism, when a girl attains maturity, it is incumbent upon her parents to look for a suitable match for her. It is neither desirable nor proper to marry a girl at tender age. The daughter of a Sikh should be given in marriage to a Sikh. If a man is a believer in Sikhism, is humble by nature, and earns his bread by honest means, with him matrimony may be contracted without a question and without consideration for wealth and riches. Sikh marriages are usually arranged. The people from other cultures do not always properly interpret the word ‘arranged’. An arranged marriage does not mean forcing man or woman into wedlock of parents’ choice only. It is agreeing to marriage proposed by mutual discussion between the man and the woman on one side and his and her parents and relatives on the other. This is in fact selecting the right partner with the approval of all. Most importantly the man and woman themselves must get to know each other to convey their consent to their parents.
There is no concept or Maryada (code) of divorce in the Sikh religion. Civil divorce is considered a very grave matter. When the marriage takes place the husband and wife agree in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji to stay with each other and love and honor each other for life. This should be honoured by both parties to their best of their abilities. If marital discord takes place, the community intervenes. Panj Pyaaray can be asked to help resolve the situation.
First some senior members of the Sangat (community) may be asked to intervene and help to resolve any differences. Secondly, the Panj Piaray can be asked to help resolve the situation. There is always pressure on the couple to resolve their differences in a amicable manner and help is freely given by the senior members of the Gurdwara or Sangat.
In some very extreme, abnormal or rare circumstances marital breakdown, the Sangat or Panj Pyaare can give permission to someone to re-marry; however, even then there is no religious ceremony for divorce. The couple can, however, obtain a divorce under the Civil law of the land. In the olden times if the marriage broke down in an extreme circumstance, the woman would leave her husband and go and stay with her parents. Nowadays, the partners may live separately, or apply for a civil divorce. However, the Panj Piaare, elder Gursikhs or Sangat should be consulted. Marriage is not however considered something that can be formed and broken at will. It is a commitment made in front of God and to be relieved of that commitment to the other person some very extenuating circumstances must be present.
If one gets to get remarried, they can get remarried with the Anand Kaaraj ceremony:
Remarriage may be solemnized in the same manner as the Anand marriage.
(SRM: Chapter 11, Article 18)
Michael Busby Jr. is a divorce & family law attorney, who practices in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, Texas. He has been in practice for over 14 years and has tried over 300 cases. He is familiar with the policy and procedures of the Harris and Fort Bend County Texas family law courts. Our office is open until 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for working folks. Michael Busby Jr. 2909 Hillcroft Suite 350 Houston, Texas 77057 (713) 974-1151 Visit me on the web at www.busby-lee.com