Anand Karaj is the marriage ceremony of the Sikhs. This special ceremony, representing the union of two individuals, is performed in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy text in Sikhism. The bride and groom sit in front of it while its verses are recited. The venue is usually a Gurdwara.
Anand Karaj literally means ‘blissful union.’ As is the norm, it is witnessed by family members of both the bride and groom. The bride sits on the left of the groom during the recital of the holy verses, with both of them holding a common ‘palaa’ (shawl). The Granthi (minister) presiding over the marriage ceremony explains the concept of marriage. The Shabad is sung in the background. Ardas, the common prayer of the Sikhs, is recited to bless the couple.
It is followed by taking a ‘hukam’ (order) from the holy book. The couple takes 4 rounds around the Guru Granth Sahib in the clockwise direction. On completion of the rounds, the minister declares the couple as married. The couple is asked to feed each other with a fruit as a symbolic representation of their marriage. On some occasions, even rings are exchanged. The ceremony is concluded with the distribution of the ‘guruprasad’ (sacred food offering).