The Sikh marriage ceremony is called Anand Karaj. The word Anand means ecstasy or bliss. Karaj means act, deed, performance or ceremony. The Sikh religion, founded in the 15th Century, is based on the teachings of the ten Gurus (prophets) who carried the message of God. The tenth Guru abolished the Guruship in human form and put the message of the ten Gurus and God in the Guru Granth Sahib (the everlasting Guru), the Sikh Holy Book, which is the embodiment of the spiritual scriptures. The marriage ceremony is performed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib to seek His blessing and guidance. The Guru Granth Sahib is written in verse and has been set to various hymns by the Gurus. The Granthi is the religious marriage officiator.
(The Marriage Ceremony)
Ardaas by the Family (Prayer)
After the Bride and
Groom are seated a short hymn is sung:
“Before undertaking any action in one’s life, seek the grace and Blessing of God.”
The Granthi will then ask the Bride, Groom and their parents to stand up. The rest of the congregation will remain seated. On their behalf, he will recite a prayer from the Guru Granth Sahib and ask for God’s blessings on the proposed marriage. The couple and their parents then take their seats and the Granthi opens the Guru Granth Sahib at random and reads a verse. A short hymn follows advising the bride and the groom to seek the grace of God.
(Giving Away of the Bride)
signify his blessing of the union, the Bride’s father takes one end of the
pulla (scarf) over the Groom’s shoulder and places the other end of the pulla
in the hands of the Bride.
A hymn is sung:
“Praise and blame, I both forsake, I seize the edge of your garment. All else I let pass. All relationships I found false, I cling to Thee, My Lord.”
The Chaar Lavan (the four rounds) are the marriage verses read at intervals from the Guru Granth Sahib. The Granthi will read the first Lavan verse. Then the Bride and Groom stand and make a symbolic circle around the Guru Granth Sahib connected by the pulla (scarf), as the religious musicians sing the Lavan. As soon as the musicians complete the verse, the couple bows to the Guru Granth Sahib and takes their respective seats. This is repeated four times.
In Sanskrit “Lav” means the breaking away from the bounds of the material world to the spiritual world. It symbolizes moving on as one goes from one life to another. In the Guru Granth Sahib, the “Lavan” describes the four stages of the journey to the union with God (or, as read in the Wedding, the union of Husband and Wife). Each Lav describes in detail a stage in the development of a person’s life of love with God, and in the case of a marriage, the couple’s life together. The First stage is the performance of duties to family and community and continued remembrance of God. The Second Stage is unconditional and selfless love and reverence a stage of love, yearning and enthusiasm. The Third Stage is the couple’s detachment from all except God and each other -- a stage of divine comprehension, love and happiness and a union of souls.
After the completion of the Chaar Lavan, the closure of the marriage ceremony begins with the singing of two tranditional hymns: “Viyah Hoa Mere Babula” (O Father, my wedding has occurred” and “Poori Aasa Ji” (All my wishes and desires have been fulfilled). Following that Anand Sahib is sung, the Hymn of Bliss.
Congregation (Concluding Prayer)
The entire congregation standing for the reciting of Ardaas (prayer) concludes the marriage ceremony for the happiness of the newly married couple. The last few lines of the prayer translate as follows:
“O’ God let our minds be humble,
our intellects be exalted and be Thou
The ever Protector of our minds. Glory be to God
Wonderful God (recited by the whole congregation)
O’Merciful Lord bless Brid and Bridgroom. Bestow Thy grace and Protection to them.”
The congregation will then resume
their seats and the Granthi will read another verse from the Guru Granth Sahib
dedicated to the occasion. Finally, the ceremony ends with Granthi opening the
Guru Granth Sahib at random and reading a verse. After the conclusion of the
ceremony, “Karah Prasaad” (sweet pudding), which is blessed food, is offered
to all in the congregation.
Their parents then congratulate the newly married couple. After the parents give their congratulations, those who wish may offer their congratulations to the couple at that time.