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Sikh Marriage

Anand Karaj - A Union of Two Souls (

"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." (Guru Amar Das, Pauri, pg. 788)

Anand Karaj is the prescribed form of Sikh marriage, the words literally translate as 'Blissful Union". The Sikh marriage is a very special ceremony in which two individuals are joined in a equal partnership. It is joyous and festive event which is very family orientated and informal in it's atmosphere. Sikh marriages are usually arranged with families acting as little more than introduction services. The ultimate choice is always left to the girl and boy. In some cases the boy and girl choose each other first and then seek their parents consent and blessing.

The Reht Maryada which is The Official Sikh Code of Conduct specifies that no thought should be given to the perspective spouses caste, race or lineage. The Reht Maryada strictly forbids any sort of dowry arrangement as marriage is not to be viewed as a business transaction. Sikhs are also discouraged from consulting horoscopes or following any other superstitions pertaining to determining a wedding date or time. The Anand Karaj ceremony can be performed in any Gurdwara or home where Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been respectfully installed. The religious ceremony cannot be performed in a hotel or banquet hall. There are no restrictions as to what time the ceremony should start or what time it should end although they are usually performed in the morning with the religious ceremony taking no more than a few hours.

An engagement ceremony called the kurmai is not required but is sometimes performed typically one week before the wedding. It is usually conducted in the Gurdwara or at the home of the boy. It involves Ardas (the common Sikh prayer), Kirtan (hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and langer (common meal) if performed in the Gurdwara. If performed at home, the brides family visit the house of the groom for a short time. In both cases the groom is usually presented him with a kara, kirpan or Indian sweets. They brides family in turn are presented with a Indian suit and sweets for the girl.

(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.

Pulla Ceremony (Giving Away of the Bride)

To 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.”

Chaar Lavan (The Four Rounds)

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.

Ardaas by 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 Amarjit and Nickolas. 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.