Exclusive: Couple forced to wed in secret describe heartbreak caused by fear of protest at their Sikh wedding

Weddings between Sikhs and non-Sikhs are being routinely disrupted Credit: Sorisso Photography

It's supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives but several weddings between Sikhs and Non-Sikhs have been disrupted by protesters who say the Sikh religious marriage ceremony should only take place between two Sikhs.

Sim is a Sikh woman who was booked to marry her partner Sam a Non- Sikh at a Gurdwara but the night before the wedding Sam says he was called to a meeting.

He says he was questioned about his faith by a member of the Sikh Youth Birmingham before being warned of a protest.

"It was carefully put to me. He said he couldn't stop the protests and the protests even though they had been peaceful thus far are getting increasingly violent so i would advise you to stop the wedding."


The Anand Karaj is the Sikh religious wedding ceremony defined as the blissful union of two souls.

It was established by Guru Amar Das Ji the fourth Sikh guru.

It is now governed by the Sikh Rehyat Maryada the Sikh code of conduct which stipulates only a Sikh can marry a Sikh.

Objectors say Sikh temples are violating the code of conduct by allowing two people of different faiths to go through this ceremony.

Sim and Sam were forced to wed at a secret ceremony at home Credit: Sorisso Photography

For Sim, who was raised by baptised Sikh parents, sharing an Anand Karaj with Sam was very important to her.

The cancellation of their Gurdwara wedding left them with no choice but to have the ceremony in secret at home.

"In my mind until that ceremony had happened i wouldn't be somebody that was married. I was completely heartbroken by the fact that it's possible you can be looking forward to such an important day and then it not just happen"


The couple don't understand why they were pressured to cancel their wedding.

Sam says he had followed the Gurdwara's guidelines which included changing his surname to Singh and learning the basics of Sikhism.

We contacted the Sikh Youth Birmingham to ask why Sam and Sim's wedding was stopped but they have not responded.

In August demonstrators tried to stop an Anand Karaj between a Sikh bride and her Non-Sikh partner at the Sri Dasmesh Gurdwara in Lozells in Birmingham.

Protesters at the Sri Dasmesh Gurdwara in Lozells have disrupted inter-faith religious ceremonies Credit: ITV News Central

In a statement The Sri Damesh Gurdwara committee said:

"The protest to stop the Anand Karaj was totally uncalled for as the non-sikh partner had adopted the Sikh faith. The Management Committee will continue working with Sikh Council UK to resolve this issue and will continue working for the wellbeing of Sikhi and our community."

Sri Dasmesh Gurdwara

And in relation to the same incident one of the protest groups, the Sikh Youth Birmingham, also released a statement on Twitter.

"The protest was against the abuse of the Anand Karaj, the religious ceremony. We don't hold the view that two people of different faiths cannot marry. We deny any use of inflammatory words or actions. Our agenda is to preserve the very religious holy ceremony of the Anand Karaj and not to interfere with people's lives."

Sikh Youth Birmingham

Some couples determined to get married in a Sikh Temple have resorted to hiring private security or get married in secret for fear of protests.

Jas Singh is from the Sikh Federation UK. He says many of the protesters are young educated professionals who feel these weddings are an attack on their faith.

According to the Sikh code of conduct, the Rehyt Marayda, only a Sikh can marry a sikh inside a Gurdwara but there is some confusion.

Sikh Scholar Dr Takhar says this raises issues around the definition of a Sikh.

Following the spate of disruptions and concerns from the community the Sikh Council UK - the largest body in the UK that represents Sikhs have stepped in.

They have upheld the view that only a Sikh can marry a Sikh and are working on a new set of guidelines for wedding ceremonies in Gurdwaras.

In the meantime protesters have promised to stop for six months while these guidelines are established.

A survey by a network of professional Sikhs found that 74 per cent of British Sikhs are in favour of inter-faith marriages in gurdwaras.

This issue has divided the Sikh community not everyone is in agreement with the enforcement of the Sikh Code of Conduct.

But objectors are clear that they want Sikhs to respect and follow the rules of the religion.

Watch Balvinder Sidhu's full report and studio reaction: