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What to Expect at a Sikh Wedding

Anand Karaj - Sikh Marriage Ceremony

“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”

In the Sikh faith, marriage represents a union of two spirits.

Summary of the Sikh Marriage Ceremony

Kirtan– The ceremony starts with hymns about teachings from the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the Sikh holy book. 

Arrival of the couple – The groom arrives first, and is seated in front of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The bride subsequently arrives, and sits to the left of the groom. 

First Shabad (hymn) – A hymn titled “Keetaa lorhee-ai kamm” is chanted. The hymn is a prayer that asks for blessings from God. 

Ardas (Prayer) – The groom, bride, and their parents, stand to recite a Sikh prayer, which is referred to as Ardas. 

Wedding Hukam (Divine Order) – Scripture read from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. 

Palaa Ceremony – At this time, a hymn about the bond between husband, wife, and god. The hymn is titled “Palai taidai laagee”, and is unique to this ceremony. While the hymn is recited, the father of the bride will tie the groom’s palaa (shawl) , to the bride. This represents the tether between the bride and groom. 

The Lavaan (The Four Wedding Rounds)

The Lavaan, also known as the Wedding Hymn, is recited and sung individually. During each Laav, the bride and groom circle around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib (The Holy Text), symbolizing that God will be the focal point of their marriage and the pillar of their support throughout life. After completing each round, the couple bows to the Guru before taking their seats.

The completion of one round is considered 1 Laav. The term Laavan refers to this particular ceremony, where the couple is required to do 4 Laav. 

Laavan/4 Wedding Rounds Translation

Guru Ram Das authored the four nuptial rounds, which emphasize essential commitments. The initial pledge is to remain true to one’s soul, upholding righteousness, treading the spiritual path, and establishing a deep connection with the soul through personal spiritual practices.

1st Round (Laav)

In this divine instruction for married life, God advocates embracing the path of righteousness over mere rituals. The verse encourages leaving behind the past and embracing a fresh start. It highlights the spiritual aspect as the central focus of marriage.

2nd Round (Laav)

God’s guidance emphasizes that spirituality is the core of marriage, and when centered on it, the union is infused with profound joy and ecstasy, leading to the dissolution of ego in the process.

3rd Round (Laav)

The heart, filled with Divine Love, brings a profound understanding of the connection between love, liberation, spirituality, and walking the righteous path. It is blessed by the Almighty, guiding one towards a meaningful and fulfilling journey.

4th Round (Laav)

Discovering God has brought peace to my mind, marking the ultimate stage of harmony and life’s fulfillment. It signifies a state of union where married life seamlessly merges with the love of God, making the couple feel like one soul inhabiting two bodies.

Right after that, the first five verses of Anand Sahib (song of Bliss) are recited. Following that, a hymn expresses the joy of the bride finding her life partner and serves as a tribute to God. The hymn “Vee-aa hoa mere baabbulaa” (A wedding has happened) is sung, symbolizing the completion of the wedding ceremony. 

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