The religious marriage ceremony which takes place in a Gurudwara is known as Anand Karaj, which literally means “A blissful union.” The couple always marries in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, with guests gather around them. At a Sikh wedding, other brides, sisters, and other female members from the bride’s side tease the groom and his family, asking for money to enter the wedding premises. Regardless of the banter, the groom and his family members as well as friends are greeted and then welcomed to the venue by serving Milni and tea.
Men usually stand on one side of the couple and woman on the other. The Sikh priest or Giani first reads the special prayer called Ardas, which is followed by a formal introduction of both parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and other family members. Introductions are kept short during the Sikh wedding so that the entire ceremony can be completed on time, and so that the event planner does not struggle to cope up.
All the following rituals are undertaken a few days before the wedding:
- Kurmai – It is the name of the engagement ceremony which starts the wedding celebrations. The rituals begin when families from both sides read the Guru Granth Sahib together, following which the wedding date is finalized.
- Chunni Chadai- During this auspicious ceremony,the groom’s family goes to the bride’s house and his mother uses a chunni to cover the bride’s head
- Mehndi and Chooda- The bride is given gorgeous mehndidesigns on her hands and feet. Her material uncle brings red and white bangles which are first dipped in milk before gifting to her. Kalires or golden ornaments are attached to these bangles.
- Maiya- The bride and the groom are not given permission to leave their homes any time before the wedding day
- Gana- Heresacred red threads are tied to the hands of both bride and groom. These threads are believed to help them tide over bad omen
- Gharoli- Both sisters-in law bring holy water from the Gurudwara, which is then used by the bride and bridegroom to bathe
These are the four prayers or verses which are chanted as the couple takes pheras, or circles the Guru Granth Sahib. The wedding hymns in the Lavaan denote the four stages of love, which have been described below.
What different verses in the Anand Karaj mean
Each verse of the sacred Anand Karaj was written the fourth Sikh Guru, Guru Ram Das. Ragis sing every verse of the Shabads aloud, with the groom and bride joined by a palla and walking around the sacred scripture. Here are the meanings of the verses:
- The 1ststanza enforces the fact that marriage is the ultimate state of life for a Sikh
- Its 2ndstanza conveys the bride’s feeling of love while leaving her previous life and moving towards a new beginning with her husband
- The bride’s detachment from external influences and rest of the world is declared in the 3rd She becomes deeply devoted to her husband and vows to live only for him.
- The 4thstanza talks about a spiritual union of devotion and love where no chances of separation exist, and life becomes full of contentment and joy. Once this stanza is completed, the groom and the bride are pronounced man and wife.
Length of the Anand Karaj
Although it may seem very elaborate, the actual wedding gets over in less than hour. However, with the number of traditions being followed before and after the ceremony, the wedding goes on for 3-4 hours. Once the ceremony is completed, another Aradas is read. Everyone stands in front of the Guru Granth Sahib, after which they are served parsad, a sweet and sacred offering prepared from flour and sugar.
Traditionally, family members at Sikh weddings do not take gifts, but they often make exceptions for very close relatives. Guests inclined towards giving gifts can do so during the “Sagaan” ceremony, which takes place after the main wedding. Gifts being given here are usually of a low value as per the local currency, both in case of the bride and the groom.
These days, guests present money within a decorative envelope and accompanied by a congratulatory message. Such gifts are normally presented to the mother of the bride or groom, depending on which side invited a particular guest to the wedding. Without following this technique, you may have to become part of a long queue at the end, and this really takes a while.
The journey of every Sikh bride is filled with an enormous bucket of emotions. Ceremonies mean much more than simply being tagged on social media. It is an enormous decision to leave her old life behind and to adjust in a completely new environment.