Anand Karaj – ਅਨੰਦ ਕਾਰਜ,  is the Sikh marriage ceremony, meaning “Blissful Union” or “Joyful Union”, that was introduced by Guru Amar Das Ji. The four Lavan (marriage hymns which take place during the marriage ceremony) were composed by his successor, Guru Ram Das Ji.

Marriage is a partnership of equals. – No consideration is to be given to Caste, Social Status, Race or lineage. – No Dowry is allowed. – No day is considered holier above any other, hence no astrological considerations are to be made and no superstitions are to be observed in fixing the date of the wedding. – The religious ceremony to take place in a Gurdwara or in the presence of Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji.

The laava phere  are the four hymns of the Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding ceremony) which form the main part of this ceremony. The four hymns are from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and appear on Ang 773 to 774 of the total of 1430.

weddingSri Guru Ram Das Ji says on Ang 788 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib of the meaning of marriage to a Sikh couple:

“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.”

The four laava give the Sikh couple spiritual guidance for their life ahead. The Guru tells of the four spiritual stages of married life and how the couple as a team have to first begin by following the path of righteousness and sinless-ness. Secondly to only have fear of the Waheguru and remove the ego from within the souls; then to remember and sing the Waheguru’s name with the holy congregation. Finally, the couple will find divine peace; come to accept the Will of the Lord and find unending happiness in the Lord.

The Anand Karaj ceremony is joyous and festive event in which families and friends from both sides are heavily involved. Most Sikh weddings take place in the Guru Ram Das Jimorning and are completed before noon. Following the ceremony is a langar or a formal lunch.

The four rounds were written by Guru Ram Das for his own wedding. They explain the journey of the souls toward the Almighty. In them he tells us of the duties that a person undertaking a life of marriage should perform.

In the first round, the Guru asks the partners to:

  • Commit to righteousness.
  • Renounce sinful actions.
  • Remember, mediate and embrace Naam.
  • Only by good fortune, is real peace obtained and Lord seems sweet to the mind.
  • Worship the one Waheguru and all your sins will vanish.

In the second round, the Guru asks the partners to advance further towards meeting the True Guru – God:

  • Waheguru leads you to meet the True Guru, the Primal Being – the enlightener
  • Have fear of fearless God and your ego will disappear
  • Sing God’s praises and feel His presence before you.
  • God is everywhere, outside and within, sing in Joy

In the third round, the Guru says that the partners mind is filled with “Divine Love”:

  • Meeting the Sadh Sangat (Holy Congregation)
  • Speak the Word of the Lord’s Bani.
  • Which is only obtained by good fortune
  • Recite Gurbani and sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord
  • The Naam will vibrates and resounds within your heart
  • And you will know your future destiny.

In the final round, the Guru says that the partners mind become peaceful and they will have found the Lord:

  • God’s Will seems sweet to these Gurmukhs.
  • You will lovingly focus your consciousness on the Lord, day and night
  • All your desires will be fulfilled
  • The Souls will blend with Waheguru and only Naam will occupy your heart