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There are six chants revealed by Guru Ramdas Sahib (1534-1581) in Rag Suhi, on pages 772-777 of the Guru Granth Sahib. The four stanzas of the second chant on pages 773-774 are known as ‘Lavan’ in the Sikh tradition. This name became popular due to the presence of the word ‘Lav’ in these stanzas. Even though there is no title with the name ‘Lav or Lavan’ found in the Guru Granth Sahib, but the word ‘Lav’ is found to be used in one of the vars by Bhai Gurdas: vigasī putra viāhiai ghoṛī lāvāṁ gāv bhaloī. -Bhai Gurdas, Var 37, Pauri 11.

According to Dr. Gopal Singh the word ‘lav’ (round) literally means ‘breaking away’ from parent’s home in Sanskrit. These four stanzas, which were initially written to describe a seeker’s union with the Divine, are sung when the Sikh bride and groom circumambulate four times around the Guru Granth Sahib to solemnize their wedding.

These four stanzas are four stages of a seeker’s union with IkOankar. They depict the seeker’s spiritual journey. It has been stated in ‘Shabdarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji:’ The Guru has deemed the objective of life to be the union of the human-bride (being) with the Divine-Husband (IkOankar). The preparations made in life to accomplish this union have been described through these stanzas of Lav. Starting with participation in householder’s life, the stanzas finally culminate in union with the eternal IkOankar. These four stanzas are recited while taking circumambulations during wedding ceremonies among Sikhs. They have dual meanings. On one hand is the model of an ideal married life of husband and wife, and on the other hand, is the spiritual union of the being with IkOankar. The married life of husband-and-wife should be based on the model of the being’s union with IkOankar. Just as a seeker on the spiritual journey is initially asked to participate in the householder’s life instead of renunciation, similarly, a couple’s wedding is the first step into the householder’s life. Just as in the spiritual journey, one is first taught to feel reverence, then love, non-attachment, and finally they attain the state of sahaj, similarly, the ideals of reverence, love, non-attachment, and the state of sahaj are advised in the life of husband and wife.

Lav is an important part of the Sikh wedding ceremony given in The Sikh Code of Conduct and Conventions (Sikh Rahit Maryada). According to this Ceremony, betrothal between a bride and a groom is called ‘Anand Karaj’ (lit. blissful task/ceremony). The statute related to Anand Karaj is called ‘The Anand Marriage Act,’ which was enacted during the British rule in India on October 22, 1909, after a long struggle. A minor amendment was made to this Act by the Indian Cabinet in April 2012. But Gurcharanjit Singh Lamba is of the opinion that “This Anand Marriage Act 1909 was not a complete marriage law, but rather, through this (Act), marriage conducted through the Sikh wedding ceremony (Anand Karaj) received only legal validation...There is no separate law related to the marriage of Sikhs, and till now, only the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 is applicable to them.”