Anand Karaj – Sikh Wedding Ceremony
“Anand Karaj” is the Sikh marriage ceremony. According to “Anand Karaj” marriage is considered an union of two equals who are united in Body, Mind and Spirit. The main ceremony in a Sikh Anand Karaj wedding is the “Laava” or “Laavan” (or Chaar Phera or Chaar Phaara or Four Rounds). During the 4 rounds of the “Laava“, four sacred hymns (“Shabads“) are recited which mean the following:
- First Round of Laavan: The Sikh wedding couple promise to be truthful to each other and to everyone else. The couple promise to follow the path of “Dharm” (righteousness, morality, spirituality, duty, honesty) and to remember “Naam” (God)
- Second Round of Laavan: Remove “Humai” (ego). Replace “I” with “We”. This will help the couple get closer to “Waheguru” (God).
- Third Round of Laavan: The couple will be filled with divine love
- First Round of Laavan: The wedded couple will find divine bliss. Their minds will be peaceful and they will find God.
Ceremonies at a Typical Sikh Wedding (Anand Karaj)
- Barat: The groom leaves his house for the wedding. He is received by the family of the bride.
- Milni: Key relations of the bride and groom are introduced to each other.
- Anand Karaj (Main Wedding Ceremony)
- Kirtan (Devotional Songs)
- Bride and groom come face to face
- Ardas (Prayer) by the Giani
- “Keetaa Loree-ai Kam” Kirtan
- Palaa and Shabad
- Laava (Chaar Phaara or 4 rounds)
- Ardas (Prayer) where all present at the wedding participate
- Kara Parshad (Sweet holy offering) is served to everyone.
- Langar (Communal lunch)
- Departure of Doli: The bride leaves with her husband
- Reception: Usually takes place in the evening or the next day
Indian Sikh Marriage Law – Anand Marriage Act
A new Indian Sikh marriage law on the lines of the “Anand Marriage Act, 1909” will be passed by the Indian government.
Indian Sikhs have been demanding a new Indian Sikh Marriage Act. Currently an Indian Sikh couple can marry either under the Hindu Marriage Act or the Indian Special Marriage Act.
Sikh leaders argue that since Sikhism and Hinduism are separate religions, they should be governed by separate Indian Marriage Acts. Indian Parsees (Zoroastrians), Indian Muslims and Indian Christians have separate Marriage laws; so Sikh leaders believe that it is only appropriate the Sikhs too have their own separate marriage laws. Sikh leaders consider this a matter of Sikh identify and sovereignty.
In 1909, the British has introduced a separate marriage law for the Sikh community, called “Anand Marriage Act, 1909”. This Sikh wedding law was repealed in 1950 and after the introduction of the Indian Hindu Marriage act in 1954; Sikh marriages were registered under this act. Sikh leaders now want the reintroduction of the “Anand Marriage Act, 1909”. The Punjab state assembly passed a law on 12th March, 2008 which introduced the “Anand Marriage Act”.
In 2007, the Pakistan government passed a law which recognized Sikh marriages as per the “Anand Karaj” ceremony and passed the “Anand Marriage Act” which is based on the “Anand Marriage Act 1909”. Pakistan’s Sikh community has over 50,000 members.
Image by Sarboo. Image used under Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)