Marriage is an important phase of human life. After marriage, the bride and bridegroom must work together to create their family life. A Sikh’s wedding (Anand Karaj) takes place in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. Generally, during the wedding, the following Sabads are read or sung along with the recitation and kirtan of the ‘Lavan’ Bani uttered by Guru Ramdas Sahib:
- kītā loṛīai kammu su hari pahi ākhīai. -Guru Granth Sahib 91.
- ustati nindā nānak jī mai habh vañāī choṛiā habhu kijhu tiāgī. -Guru Granth Sahib 963.
- vīāhu hoā mere bābulā gurmukhe hari pāiā. -Guru Granth Sahib 78.
- pūrī āsā jī mansā mere rām. -Guru Granth Sahib 477.
- gāu gāu rī dulhanī maṅgalcārā. -Guru Granth Sahib 482.
- anadu karahu mili sundar nārī. -Guru Granth Sahib 806
This Sabad (kītā loṛīai kammu su hari pahi ākhīai) inspires one to perform ardas
In Sikhi, ardas (supplication) is crucial to every ceremony. That is why it is written on page 26 of ‘Sikh Reht Maryada’ that “whatever occasion of happiness or sorrow comes (like entering a new house, opening a new shop, sending a child to a school, etc.) a Sikh should do supplication to seek the help of IkOankar.”before IkOankar (the Divine) for the success of a desired task. In the Sikh tradition, there is a practice of performing ardas on every happy or sad occasion, such as a housewarming, or starting a new business. Ardas is an essential part of all ceremonies.
Sikh Rahit Maryada, page 26. The title of the ‘Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions’ published by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Sri Amritsar is ‘Sikh Reht Maryada.’ But in this project, it is spelled as ‘Sikh Rahit Maryada.’ Here onwards, no footnotes are provided for the references taken from it.Therefore, this Sabad is recited or sung at the beginning of any task or auspicious occasion. Due to this, the Sikh wedding ceremony is also initiated with this Sabad.
To perform the wedding ceremony, a divan
A congregation where scriptural compositions are sung in prescribed musical modes (rags).is organized in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. In the divan, the bride and bridegroom, and their family members, relatives, and friends are present in the sangat. The bride and bridegroom are seated in front of the Guru Granth Sahib. The bride sits to the left of the bridegroom. Although kirtan is already being sung in the divan at that time, this Sabad is recited or sung only when the immediate members of the family are present and preparations for the wedding ceremony are complete.
After this, ardas is performed. During ardas, only the bride, the bridegroom, and their parents (or guardians) stand. The rest of the sangat remains seated.
After ardas, the person presiding over the Guru Granth Sahib, or a learned Sikh present at the ceremony, imparts teachings (traditionally referred to as sikhia) to the bride and bridegroom according to the Guru’s thought (Gurmat). The meaning of Lavan revealed by Guru Ramdas Sahib in Rag Suhi is explained to them. The method of molding their relationship along the lines of love between the being and IkOankar is explained to them. It is affirmed that marriage in Sikhi is not just a social relationship, but a union of two beings. So, both people who are getting married are to live as one spirit according to the words of Guru Amardas Sahib:
dhan piru ehi na ākhīani bahani ikaṭhe hoi.
ek joti dui mūratī dhan piru kahīai soi. -Guru Granth Sahib 788.
Accepting the things explained in the teachings, the bride and bridegroom bow to the Guru Granth Sahib. This is followed by ‘Palle Di Rasam.’
Sabad 2: ustati nindā nānak jī mai habh vañāī choṛiā habhu kijhu tiāgī. -Guru Granth Sahib 963.
It is also worth mentioning that in ancient times, the wedding processions stayed at the bride’s house for many days. Earlier, Sikh weddings used to be conducted the during early hours (amrit vela). Before the wedding ceremony, kirtan of ‘Asa Ki Var’ was done. But nowadays the wedding procession reaches the bride’s house or a venue on the same day. That is why only a few Sabads are sung instead of ‘Asa Ki Var.’ But even today, in many Gurduaras (popularly Gurdwaras), there is a practice of conducting wedding ceremonies during the early hours. If there is a practice of reciting ‘Asa Ki Var’ daily in the Gurduara, the wedding ceremony is performed immediately after that. But this does not mean a wedding ceremony cannot be performed without ‘Asa Ki Var.’
This Sabad is revealed by Guru Ramdas Sahib (1534-1581 CE) in Rag Srirag and recorded on page 91 of the Guru Granth Sahib. This Sabad is the twentieth pauri of ‘Srirag Ki Var Mahala 4 Saloka Nal.’ It has six lines.
This Sabad (ustati nindā nānak jī mai habh vañāī choṛiā habhu kijhu tiāgī) is read or sung during the ‘palle
A long piece of cloth in red, pink, saffron, or any color matching the bridegroom’s dress is considered a part of his outfit. In length, it is kept in quarters—for example, two and a quarter or three and a quarter meters. The sentiment behind this is best wishes for the couple’s married life. The bridegroom places the palla on his right shoulder and holds one end with both hands. The front of the palla is folded into a kind of pouch or bag, and monetary gifts from family, relatives, and friends are put into it. But before this, at the wedding, the bridegroom’s mother (or any woman who plays the role of the mother) puts coconut, sweets, and some money in it as a gesture of good fortune. The bridegroom’s sisters hold the other end of this scarf during the marriage procession. During the wedding ceremony, this palla is handed over to the bride.di rasam’ (ceremony of the scarf). In this ceremony, the bride’s father, or an immediate/close relative hand over the bridegroom’s scarf (palla) to the bride. For this reason, it is also called ‘palle da Sabad.’ This ceremony marks the bride and bridegroom’s acceptance of one another.
In Sikh Rahit Maryada, there is mention of handing over the groom’s scarf (palla) to the bride, but there is no mention of the above Sabad being read or sung during this ceremony.
Some people often think that ‘palle di rasam’ (ceremony of the scarf) negates the equality of men and women, as it traditionally involves handing over the groom’s scarf (palla) to the bride, which is performed by the bride’s father, a male. But the Sikh Rahit Maryada states that the ceremony should be performed by the ‘father or main/immediate relative,’ which suggests that any other member of the family may also perform the ceremony. Earlier, the socio-political and cultural conditions were not as suitable as they are today. Consequently, marriage, death, and other social responsibilities were performed only by men. Due to the patriarchal nature of society, the head of the family was usually the father. Family decisions were usually made by him, including decisions regarding the marriage of a son or daughter. But this does not mean that in all cases, the opinions of women were not taken or considered. It is true that due to societal norms, women were (and can continue to be) treated as property or extensions of the men in their families. However, for a marriage to be considered a truly joyous affair, there must be active consent, participation, and cooperation of the women of the household, including the bride. Some might understand the palla ceremony as the father of the bride giving her away to the groom as a transfer of ownership. It is important to acknowledge this connotation and carefully consider cultural traditions from a Sikh perspective rooted in Sikh principles. Handing over the scarf can be understood as handing over all the responsibilities of the bride to the groom under the circumstances of that time. This can also be understood as both the bride and the groom accepting one another, and their individual responsibility to protect one another’s dignity and respect one another’s agency. Therefore, today, this symbolic ceremony should not be taken as a negation of the equality of men and women or that the status of women is lesser than that of men. Nowadays, men and women are equal partners in every aspect of life.
According to the Guru’s thought, IkOankar is the Husband, and all beings (male or female) are the wives. In this Sabad, there is a reference to the human-bride joining in union with IkOankar, the Divine-Husband, considering all worldly relations to be transient. Therefore, the reading or singing of this Sabad at the time of the wedding is the manifestation of spiritual expressions in social relationships, through this ceremony.
These Sabads are followed by recitation and kirtan of four Lavan revealed by Guru Ramdas Sahib (1534-1581 CE) in Rag Suhi.
For detailed information about the wedding ceremony, open the following link:https://app.gurugranthsahib.io/tggsp/english/Bani/dsm/SuhiM/IntroductionAfter the recitation of each Lav, the bridegroom, and bride holding the ceremonial scarf perform a clockwise circumambulation of the Guru Granth Sahib. During the circumambulation, ragis
Those who sing compositions in prescribed musical modes (rags) from the Guru Granth Sahib and other texts mentioned in the Sikh Code of Conduct.sing Lavan. After completing the circumambulation, the bride and bridegroom stand in front of the Guru Granth Sahib to listen to the recitation of the next Lav. After the conclusion of the recitation of the four Lavan, kirtan, and circumambulations, the bride and bridegroom sit at their designated place in front of the Guru Granth Sahib. Ragis recite or sing the first five and the last stanza of Anand Sahib. As per the Sikh tradition, ardas is performed to conclude the wedding ceremony and after that, karah prasad
Karah Parshad (commonly degh) is a preparation made from water and equal quantities of flour (mostly wheat), butter, and sugar. Distribution of the Karah Parshad is a symbolic act that represents the Guru’s grace.is distributed. But nowadays, some Sabads are recited or sung after the six stanzas of Anand Sahib, which are discussed below.
This Sabad is revealed by Guru Arjan Sahib (1563-1606 CE) and recorded on page 963 of the Guru Granth Sahib. This Sabad is the first salok that comes with the fourteenth stanza of ‘Ramkali Ki Var.’ It has two lines.
After the completion of four stanzas of the composition Lavan, six stanzas of Anand Sahib (first five and last) are recited. After that, the second stanza, ‘vīāhu hoā mere bābulā’ of this Sabad (mundh iāṇī peīaṛai kiu kari hari darsanu pikhai) is read or sung. In this Sabad, there is a description of the supreme state of a human-bride’s union with the Divine-Husband. The remaining stanzas of this Sabad describe the human-bride’s preparation for meeting with the Divine-Husband and the state after the union. At the social level, the singing of this Sabad after the wedding ceremony seems to symbolize the inner desires of the bride and bridegroom. The joy of the sangat gathered at the time of the wedding ceremony is also a witness to the successful completion of the ceremony through this Sabad.
The word ‘bābulā’ (father) appearing in this stanza creates a special cultural and social context. It should not be understood as an address by the bride to her father. According to the conditions of medieval times, the head of the household was the father or some other senior member of the family. Although all the tasks were accomplished with the help of other members of the family, the responsibility was considered to be that of the head only. Greetings or congratulations to the family on a happy occasion were also addressed to the head of the family. But this should not be understood to mean that women or other family members were not congratulated. In a famous Panjabi folk song related to marriage, although the father is also mentioned, the address is to the mother: aj ji dihari rakh doli ni ma, rahan babal di ban ke goli ni ma. Therefore, ‘babula’ address in this stanza should be seen in these cultural and social contexts. As per the context in the Sabad, the word ‘babul’ has been interpreted as the ‘father-like virtuous friend.’ Internally, this stanza represents the happiness of both the bride and the groom.
This Sabad is revealed by Guru Ramdas Sahib in Rag Srirag and recorded on pages 78 and 79 of the Guru Granth Sahib. This Sabad has five stanzas. Each stanza has six lines.
The fourth stanza (pūrī āsā jī mansā mere rām) of this Sabad (gur mili ladhā jī rāmu piārā rām) is read or sung after the Sabad mentioned above.
In Panjabi culture, finding the desired bridegroom is indicative of endless happiness for the bride and her family, like the fulfillment of a deep desire. Spiritually, this Sabad describes the joy of uniting with IkOankar through the Wisdom (Guru). Thus, this Sabad is a cultural expression of transcendent spiritual happiness.
This Sabad is revealed by Guru Arjan Sahib (1563-1606 CE) in Rag Vadahans and recorded on pages 576 and 577 of the Guru Granth Sahib. This Sabad has four stanzas. Each stanza has six lines.
This Sabad (gāu gāu rī dulhanī maṅgalcārā) is read or sung at any time before or after the wedding ceremony. There is mention of the union of the human-bride with the Divine-Husband in this Sabad. According to this Sabad, the Divine-Husband has come to marry the human-bride. All natural elements and metaphysical forces also seem to be enjoying this union. This state is picturized through the vocabulary associated with marriage, like mangalchara (song of rejoicing sung on the occasion of marriage), barati (wedding procession), dulhan (bride), dulhu (bridegroom), bedi (an altar).
In this Sabad, the marriage scenes have been presented from beginning to end. These scenes include the arrival of a marriage procession, singing songs of happiness by women, preparation for Lavan, the bridegroom taking the bride in marriage, etc. Perhaps this is why this Sabad is sung during the wedding ceremony.
This Sabad is revealed by Bhagat Kabir (born in 1398 CE) in Rag Asa and recorded on page 482 of the Guru Granth Sahib. This Sabad has three stanzas of two lines each. The stanza of rahau, also of two lines, is separate from these.
This Sabad (anadu karahu mili sundar nārī) is read or sung in happiness at the conclusion of the wedding ceremony.
Sant Hari Singh ‘Randhave Vale,’ Adi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji Da Sampardai Satik: Gurbani Arth-Bhandar, part seven, page 512.Usually, this Sabad is sung by using the lines ‘anadu karahu mili sundar nārī. guri nānaki merī paij savārī.’ as a refrain. It may be because these lines seem to express the happiness of the bride and bridegroom and their families.
This Sabad is revealed by Guru Arjan Sahib in Rag Bilaval and recorded on page 806 of the Guru Granth Sahib. This Sabad has two stanzas of two lines each, and the stanza of ‘rahau,’ also of two lines, is separate from these.