Anand Karaj: When Two Souls Become One

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Anand Karaj a Sikh marriage ceremony was introduced by Guru Amar Das which means “Blissful Union”. This was first legitimated in India through the Anand Marriage Act, 1909 but now it is governed by Sikh Reht Maryada. Anand Karaj can take place only in a Gurudwara (temple), and for the success of the marriage, any Amritdhari Sikh may perform the marriage ceremony.

Some important points which Sikh couple and their families must adhere:

  1. In a Sikh marriage, there is no dowry allowed as Sikh believes that marriage is a union of two people and not a business transaction.
  2. This religious ceremony has to take place in the presence of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
  3. Wedding cost to be borne by both the families as equally as possible.
  4. Marriage is a partnership of equals.
  5. Marriage is all about love and is above the caste, social status, race or lineage. So, no consideration is given to caste, social status, race or lineage.
  6. Every day is a holy day, so there should be no astrological considerations to be made and no superstitions are to be observed while fixing the date of the wedding.

Many Sikh Weddings take place in the morning in which families and friends from both sides are heavily involved and the wedding has to be completed before noon. Following the ceremony, there is a langar or formal lunch. Most of the families combined wedding ceremony with the engagement ceremony called the ‘kurmai’ which held just before the wedding vows. Engagement Ceremony can be celebrated on a different day as well, this ceremony usually celebrated either at Gurudwara or at the house of groom-to-be. The ceremony involves Ardas, langar, kirtan and Sagun (exchange of gifts). In the “sagan” ceremony, there are presents for both the parties, i.e. the groom is presented with a Karar, Kirpan, Indian sweets, fresh fruits, dry fruits and nuts and the bride-to-be’s families, in turn, are presented with garments and sweets.

The 4 vows consist in the Anand Karaj between the married couple sung as hymns by the raagis present in the Gurudwara. These vows have great significance and let us know what they mean:

  1. The first phera around the Guru Granth Sahib Ji directs the couple to follow the way of God. It announces the beginning of the marriage ceremony with emphasis on spiritual awakening and togetherness by meditating on God’s name.
  2. In the second phera, the couple is recommended to seek the path of the truth. The prominence is on freeing the mind from fear, removing the self of ego and filling the mind and space with soulful spiritual songs of joy.
  3. In the third round of pheras, the soul is said to be filled with divinity and love, by the good fortune of God. The heart and mind are filled with love for God, invoking the couple to fulfil their destiny by contemplating the greatness of God.
  4. The fourth and the final phera, indicates the peace of mind and having found Union with God. It signifies the sweet and fruitful state of mind where the heart and mind if finally with God. The bride and the groom are now blessed with the grace of God to begin their life together.

This shows Anand Karaj truly a ‘Joyous Union’. The ceremony seeks to officiate the wedding of the two souls as one being belonging to God. The music is a perfect way to celebrate the ceremony together peacefully and calmly.

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