Harjinder Singh Kukreja and Harkirat Kaur Kukreja Re-register from Hindu Marriage Registration to Anand Marriage Act, Setting a Trend
Harjinder Singh Kukreja and Harkirat Kaur Kukreja Re-register from Hindu Marriage Registration to Anand Marriage Act, Setting a Trend

Harjinder Singh Kukreja and Harkirat Kaur Kukreja, a prominent Sikh couple from Ludhiana’s Punjab renowned for their influential social and cultural advocacy through their travels and influence online, have taken a significant step by re-registering their marriage under the Anand Marriage Act. This act marks a crucial milestone in the Sikh community's effort to secure recognition for its matrimonial traditions, which are distinct from those recognised under the Hindu Marriage Act. 

Originally enacted in 1909, the Anand Marriage Act was meaningfully amended only in 2012, and though the rules were officially set into motion on December 16, 2016, after publication in the Official Gazette, the actual issuance of marriage certificates under this law began only recently. This move by the Kukrejas aims to affirm the unique cultural identity of Sikh marriages within the legal framework of India. Harjinder Singh Kukreja and Harkirat Kaur Kukreja are among the first to re-register their marriage from the Hindu to the Anand Marriage Act, setting a significant precedent for others in their community.

The Kukrejas, motivated by a deep commitment to their faith and heritage, initiated the process to switch their marriage registration to the Anand Marriage Act as a reflection of their belief and to set a precedent for other Sikh couples. This movement isn’t just about personal milestones; it’s about igniting a broader awareness and adoption of the Anand Marriage Act across India, where implementation has been uneven and awareness sparse.

Harjinder Singh Kukreja expressed his profound connection to the Act, stating, “Aligning our marriage with the Anand Marriage Act is not only a personal joy but a strong statement of our identity as Sikhs.” Harkirat Kaur Kukreja added, “This isn’t just about us; it’s about setting a precedent. If our actions can inspire other Sikh couples to embrace their legal rights under the Anand Marriage Act, we consider it a victory for our community.”

The movement to have Sikh marriages recognized under a separate legal framework has historical roots, with advocates like Tikka Ripudaman Singh of Nabha initially championing the cause. The campaign continued over generations, finding support from significant figures including former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, whose administration passed the Anand Marriage (Amendment) Bill in 2012.

The re-registration comes at a time when the implementation of the Anand Marriage Act has seen varied enthusiasm across states. Despite being officially amended and notified, many regions remain sluggish in its adoption, with governmental and bureaucratic inertia slowing down its widespread acceptance. This lackadaisical approach has, at times, discouraged Sikh couples from seeking registration under the Act, despite its availability since 2016.  It was only In June 2023, the Anand Marriage Act was implemented in Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab. This pivotal change has only recently allowed Sikh couples to register their marriages under a law that reflects their unique religious customs.

Punjab’s Chief Minister, Bhagwant Mann, recently reaffirmed his commitment to the Act, recognizing the cultural and legal significance of the legislation. “The Anand Marriage Act’s implementation is crucial not just for the sanctity of Sikh matrimonial rites but as a matter of rightful legal recognition of our distinct cultural practices,” said CM Mann.

The Kukrejas’ decision is seen as a landmark in the Sikh community’s fight for legal recognition and respect for their matrimonial customs. It echoes the community’s larger struggle for identity affirmation and legal acknowledgment, which has spanned over a century. By re-registering their marriage under the Anand Marriage Act, Harjinder and Harkirat Kaur Kukreja hope to catalyze a broader cultural and legal shift that respects and recognizes Sikh matrimonial rites on equal footing with other religious practices in India.

Their story is not just a legal formalization of a marital bond but a resonant chapter in the narrative of Sikh identity and advocacy, offering hope and direction to many who wish to see their traditions honored and upheld by the law. It stands as a testament to the power of personal conviction and the potential impact of leading by example in inspiring change and fostering a more inclusive and respectful society.

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