Anand Karaj is the Sikh marriage ceremony, meaning “Act towards happiness” or “Blissful Event”, that was introduced by Guru Amar Das. It is based on Anand Kaarya of Sanskrit. The four laavaan (hymns which take place during the ceremony) were composed by his successor, Guru Ram Das. It was originally legalised in India through the passage of the Anand Marriage Act of 1909, but is now governed by the Sikh Reht Maryada (Sikh code of conduct and conventions) that was issued by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).
The points below outline some of the key points that must be adhered to by both the Sikh bride & groom as well as the families:
- Both the bride and groom must be Sikhs.
- Marriage is a genuine partnership of equals and unification of spirit, mind and body.
- Marriage is not only regarded as a lifetime connection between the bride and groom but between the families too
- No consideration of caste, social status, race or lineage.
- The practice of dowry should not be followed, it is something the Sikh Gurus spoke against.
- No astrological considerations should be made and no superstitions are to be observed in fixing the date of the wedding.
- The religious ceremony is to take place with the presence of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
- The cost of the wedding should be shared as equally as possible between both families.
The Anand Karaj ceremony takes place in the morning and is typically completed before noon. Following the ceremony is a langar or a formal lunch, the overall wedding event may however span more than a day.
The Lavaan Phere
The laava phere (singular laav) are the four hymns of the Anand Karaj that form the main part of this ceremony. The four hymns are from the Guru Granth Sahib, and appear on Ang 773 to 774. The Fourth Guru, Guru Ram Daas Ji composed the four-stanza hymn.
Guru Amar Das Ji says on Ang 788 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib of the meaning of marriage to a Sikh couple: “They are not said to be husband and wife who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies.”
The main part of the Anand Karaj is the reading and then the singing of each laav in turn. When the Laav is sang, the couple, joined by a piece of cloth, circle the Guru Granth Sahib. This has relevance to the occasion and should not be considered a ritual without meaning. With each circle around the Guru Granth Sahib a commitment to God is made, with the Guru as their spiritual witness and support.
And as the bride and groom circle the Sri Guru Granth Sahib they are reminded that the Guru should be the center of their lives, from which will spring their spiritual leadership and understanding required for their soul’s long journey across this ‘world ocean’. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the spiritual center and the Sadh Sangat is your knowing witness and support.
The four nuptial rounds explain the journey of the souls toward Waheguru. In them Guru Ram Das Ji tells us of the responsibilities that a person accepting a life of marriage should perform.
In the first round, the Guru asks the partners to:
- Commit to righteousness.
- Renounce sinful actions.
- Remember, mediate and embrace Naam.
- Only by good fortune, is real peace obtained and Lord seems sweet to the mind.
- Worship the one Waheguru and all your sins will vanish.
In the second round, the Guru asks the partners to advance further towards meeting the True Guru – God:
- The Lord leads you to meet the True Guru, the Primal Being – the enlightener.
- Have fear of fearless God and your ego will disappear.
- Sing God’s praises and feel God’s presence before you.
- God is everywhere, outside and within, sing in Joy.
In the third round, the Guru says that the partners mind is filled with “Divine Love”:
- Meeting the Sadh Sangat (Holy Congregation)
- Speak the Word of the Lord’s Bani.
- Which is only obtained by good fortune
- Recite Gurbani and sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord
- The Naam will vibrate and resound within your heart
- And you will know your future destiny.
In the final round, the Guru says that the partners minds become peaceful and they will have found the Lord:
- God’s Will seems sweet to these Gurmukhs.
- You will lovingly focus your consciousness on the Lord, day and night
- All your desires will be fulfilled
- The Souls will blend with Waheguru and only Naam will occupy your heart.
References: Sikhi Wiki
Full Length Sikh Anand Karaj Ceremony with English Lavaan Subtitles
This is a full length Sikh Wedding Ceremony (Anand Karaj), including English subtitles for the lavaan, the most important part of the ceremony. All credit and copyright belong to One Word Entertainment.
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