Thought for the Month.
It seems hard to believe that our multicultural family wedding was over a month ago; a whole weekend celebrating family, faith and food—lots of each!
The Sikh part of the wedding took place at the bride’s parent’s home. We, the groom’s party, gathered at 8 am at the end of their road before arriving at their house with much noise and the beating of a drum. Our son was dressed like a Sikh prince, resplendent in colourful clothing and turban. After exchanging garlands so everyone knew who were “the important family members”, and having breakfasted, we washed our hands, removed our shoes, covered our heads and sat for the Sikh ceremony.
At its heart are the four lavans, the wedding hymns. We were given an English explanation of what was going on—one of the aunties said that many of the British Sikhs were grateful to hear it, as their Punjabi wasn’t that good. The hymns can be thought of as signifying four stages on our life’s journey: growing in understanding of who we are as individuals; growing together as a couple; growing as a couple in community with others; and growing towards unity in God.
After lunch, and a short civil ceremony to make things legal, we continued to celebrate by sharing Christian thoughts on marriage, a Bible reading, blessing of rings and the marriage, wedding prayers, and a final blessing for us all.
More food followed and lots of banghra dancing until late in the evening. It was a joyous day, especially for proud parents, and we were overwhelmed by the depth of hospitality and the generosity of spirit shown by everyone.
Many spontaneous conversations ensued between Sikhs and Christians (and those of no faith) and it was in these that generosity of spirit really shone through. We could have spoken of what divides us, where we differ in beliefs and customs, but we did not.
Instead, on all sides, we were struck by the depth of what we have in common. Several Sikhs came and told me how moved they had been by St Paul’s great poem on love, First Letter to the Corinthians, which my brother read in its entirety during the Christian part of the ceremony. We reflected on how much of the Sikh ceremony and beliefs resonated with us.
When we focus on how we differ from others, what divides us, we can find ourselves on a road that leads to dark places, even to intolerance and racism.
Yet there is so much more that we have in common: we are all children of the same loving God; we share a common humanity; and we all have the same hopes and dreams for a better life for all. Let us always try to look for the common ground in everything we say and do.
Revd Alison Ball
Chet Valley Parishes