The Anand Karaj
Anand Karaj, literally meaning blissful union, is the actual wedding ceremony. The ceremony traditionally takes place in the morning and is completed by noon. The main component of the ceremony is the four lavan (walk around the Guru Granth Sahib – the Sikh holy book) done by the bride and groom.
After the ceremony, langar (food) is offered to all in attendance.
Time of Day:
Between 10:00am and 12:00pm
How it’s Done:
- The groom enters the Darbar (main hall) and matha teks and offers the ramala by placing it down by the matha tek area.
- He sits on the side of the hall designated for men.
- Just before the bride is to enter, the groom is seated in front of the Guru Granth Sahib altar by a granthi.
- The bride then enters escorted by her brother and either her entire family or select family members.
- She matha teks and either she or a family member offers the ramala. She sits next to the groom with her sisters and bhabis (brother’s wives) around her
- The groom’s sisters and bhabis sit behind him at this point
- After the completion of the hymn, an Ardaas (that is not recited out loud) is performed with just the bride and groom and their parents standing. In the Ardaas permission to begin the marriage ceremony is asked. A vaak (a randomly chosen paragraph from the Guru Granth Sahib) is then read.
- The palla ceremony (palla the rasum) is next. The bride’s father takes one end of the palla from the groom and places it in the bride’s hand. This symbolizes the father giving away his daughter. The related hymn is sung Palla tanda lai.
- The brothers and male cousins of the bride take their place around the altar as the first laav begins to be read.
- The laavan begins by the granthi reading each from the Granth Sahib. Lavan are the four marriage hymns of the Anand Karaj. The laavan describe the stages of the journey that lead to a union with god and the union of husband and wife.
- After each reading, the related hymn begins and the bride and groom matha tek and stand.
- The groom leads the way, with the bride following close behind; they walk around the Granth Sahib altar.
- The brothers take turns holding their sister and guiding her around the altar.
- Once the bride and groom complete a circle around the altar and reach their seats, they matha tek again and sit down.
- This process is repeated three times.
- After the final laav, a hymn is sung that symbolizes the completion of the wedding ceremony Viha howa mera bapalla .
- Rings are often exchanged at this point and paper work is signed
- A final Ardaas is performed by the entire congregation after which after Karah Prasad is served. (This concludes the Anand Karaj and the couple are now married. Most families continue with the following steps)
- The groom’s parents place a garland around both the bride and groom and place money in their laps
- The bride’s parents do the same
- Relative and friends who choose to do so, can now give money to the bride and groom by placing it in their lap
First Laav: Guru frees the bride and groom from all evil inclinations.
Second Laav: Guru washes away self centredness of the bride and groom to promote the growth of love.
Third Laav: Guru’s love is awakened in the hearts of the couple.
Fourth Laav: The harmony of perfect bliss derived from marriage, the union of the bride and groom is complete. They are now at one with god.
Bachai lok your Auntyji recommends you have fun at your wedding. No need for the sad faces girls. Also, I have heard that these days’ people are doing rehearsals of a Sikh wedding. Not a bad idea if you want things to be just right. Another idea for those who have never seen a Sikh wedding, is to drop into a gurdwara on a Saturday morning and observe the event unfold. You will learn a lot just by watching. Don’t be shy as gurdwaras are always open to the public.