Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington
Indian American Sikhs on Tuesday welcomed the Indian Parliament’s decision to pass a Bill that allows Sikhs to register their marriages under the Anand Marriage Act. The Rajya Sabha unanimously passed the Anand Karaj Amendment Bill on Monday, and on Tuesday the Lok Sabha approved the legislation with a voice vote.
“This is a historic day for Sikhs in independent India,” said Dr Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Washington-based Sikh Council on Religion and Education.
“Not having a full recognition of their observances and their customs in India had created a sense of lack among Sikhs in India and it questioned their independent identity as a community,” he said.
“It also sends a signal that India welcomes its own vibrant diversity and honours its own minorities,” he added.
The Anand Marriage Act, which was enacted in 1909, had no provision for registration of marriage. Sikh marriages were registered under the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955.
Anand Karaj, which refers to the Sikh marriage ceremony, means “blissful union”.
Sikh groups say members of their community face problems abroad because while they identify as Sikhs, their marriage certificates are issued under the Hindu Marriage Act.
“Finally, Sikhs in India have the chance to feel that they are fully acknowledged,” said Ranjit Singh, chairman of the Maryland-based Guru Gobind Singh Foundation.
“It is important for Sikh leaders to evolve consensus on the next phase of the process,” he added.
I J Singh, a New York-based author, said the passing of the Bill was an important one for Sikhs across the world. “It is crucial step, but it is a pity that it took 60 years,” he said.