Provincial assembly in Pakistan passes bill to regulate Sikh marriages

In this Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 photo, Pakistani Sikh Radesh Singh, left, talks at a temple in Peshawar, Pakistan. Singh's said that his grandfather was just 11 years old when he left his "simple village" in India's Punjab province to move to Peshawar, in the far northwest of the country on the border with Afghanistan. Seventy years after Partition of the Indian subcontinent, Pakistan’s Sikhs say neither India nor Pakistan feels like home for a young generation searching for peace and security elsewhere. (AP Photo/Muhammad Sajjad)

Lahore:  The Punjab Assembly in Pakistan on Wednesday unanimously passed the ‘Punjab Sikhs Anand Karaj Marriages Act 2017’, a legislation that will provide legal status to Sikh marriages in the province.

The bill was tabled by provincial minister Sardar Ramesh Singh Arora in 2017 and was signed by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif last week, Dawn News reports.

The legislation will come into force immediately after it has been approved by the Governor.

According to the legislation, a marriage ceremony, or Anand Karaj — which is defined as “the lawful union of a Sikh male and Sikh female” — will be performed in accordance with the religious practices as permitted in the Sikh religious text Guru Granth Sahib.

A “marriage deed”, a legal document authorising the matrimonial union, will then be issued by a registrar who will be appointed by the Punjab government.

Arora, while presenting the bill in the assembly, observed that “Pakistan (will be) the only country in the world that would register Sikh marriages” once the measure is adopted.

Hitherto, the records of Sikh marriages were only maintained in a Gurdwara.