"there was more of a shame and stigma to it."
Minreet Kaur revealed that she was judged by the local Sikh community for being a divorcee.
The 41-year-old from West London spoke about her experiences during Sikh Marriage Week, which encourages dialogue and understanding around marriage from a Sikh perspective.
Minreet got divorced 14 years ago after meeting her then-partner through the Gurdwara. She said the marriage was “semi-arranged”.
She was with her partner for a year before she decided she did not want to be in an unhappy marriage so she got divorced.
But since then, Minreet has found it difficult to meet people, especially within her own community.
She said: “In terms of what Sikh Marriage Week means to me is that we are coming to be more accepting about people who are divorced, there was more of a shame and stigma to it.
“I got divorced 14 years ago and haven’t been able to meet someone.
“Marriage Week back then was not available, had we been doing outreach work like this then others like myself wouldn’t be feeling like we’re much older now, so it’s more difficult for us to find people.
“We need to educate people to not judge anyone, a widow, divorcee or someone separated.
“Everyone has the right to meet someone else.
“If you have gone through something in life why do they have to stay single?
“Our faith says to be kind love, give, be compassionate and we say everything happens in God’s will. So we should not judge and label people.
“I’ve had that a lot from my own community but things have changed now, a lot of people are going through divorce now so I think for me it’s a case of educating others.
“That education and dialogue should be there while we celebrate Sikh Marriage Week.
“We need to get conversations going on what comes with marriage, if your marriage isn’t working then normalise divorce – it doesn’t make you a bad person, you should look to your community for support as there is someone out there for everyone.”
In Sikhism, the marriage ceremony is called an Anand Karaj.
Minreet told MyLondon:
“Your purpose is to become one and find your way back home when you leave this world.”
“There is no word for divorce, that’s not saying that the Guru said you shouldn’t get divorced but there just isn’t a word for it.
“I think God forgives all, if you’re in a mentally abusive marriage and there is no equality then you shouldn’t be in an unhappy marriage – walk away to follow that path to God yourself, you’re not focused if you have someone bringing you down and making you feel low.”
Among previous generations, divorce was not usually an option as a wife would have no means of supporting herself.
Today, it is more accepted that a couple may divorce and remarry.