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Changing Trends in Sikh Weddings

Discussion in 'Sikh Sikhi Sikhism' started by Admin Singh, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. Admin Singh

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    Changing trends in Sikh weddings and a special ‘anand Karaj’ in Thailand

    By Dya Singh
    In my life and ‘travels’ I have attended, helped to conduct, and conducted, literally hundreds of ‘Anand Karaj’ (Sikh religious wedding) ceremonies since teenage-hood. I remember some beautiful ceremonies of yesteryears when the ‘lavan’ (four circumambulations by the couple around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib which is the hub of the ceremony) were the most important function and highlight of a Sikh wedding.

    (Henceforth ‘lavan’ or ‘Anand Karaj’ refer to the aforementioned Sikh wedding ceremony. Other sub-ceremonies like ‘milni’, ‘mehndhi’, ‘ladies sangeet’, ‘segen’ are all cultural, non-spiritual attachments to the main ‘lavan’ ceremony.)

    Our group was called upon to help plan and carry out an ‘Anand Karaj’ at the coastal resort village of Hua Hin, in Thailand on 9th July 2009. This ceremony was planned from the previous year.

    BUT, first, let me explain why I considered it necessary to write about it.
    It is my observation that the significance and meaning of the actual ‘lavan’ are today, generally, a mere formality and the remaining ‘merry-making’ and other, sometimes meaningless and outdated (but highly entertaining, with free booze and food for all attendees and a great opportunity to socialise) cultural ceremonies of a Sikh wedding have taken greater prominence.

    I think the western ‘hens night’ and ‘bachelor party’ perhaps represent a more interesting modern phenomena. At least in that scenario the bridegroom comes in with a half-shaved head or a missing eyebrow – all part of the previous night’s merrymaking!!! (Normally the ‘hens party’ is a more ‘sober’ affair because the females are more concerned that their hair is done right, that the wedding dress is immaculate and she is there early, on time and looking at her best!) At least the ‘wedding ceremony’, (the ‘I do’s’ etc. whether in church or at a Registry) is the most important event! No so, the Sikh wedding, generally. A great many of the guests these days do not come to the actual ceremony but certainly turn up for the reception/s.

    I attended a nephew’s ‘Anand Karaj’ in Vancouver a few years ago. The ‘so-called ‘mehndhi night’, the ‘sangeet’ night and the finale being the ‘reception’ were all far more significant in the eyes of almost all, while the Saturday morning ‘lavan’ ceremony was attended by a miniscule sangat. Yet again, on the day, the associated ceremonies like ‘milni’, ‘sagan’, ‘ring-exchange’ and ‘doli’ ceremonies were of greater prominence than the ‘lavan’ themselves.

    The most prominent part of the ‘lavan’ was the haggling between the Gurdwara committee members with the bride-groom’s ‘representatives’ about how much the bride-groom’s party should contribute towards the Gurdwara as the bride’s party had contributed a certain amount and hopefully the bridegroom’s party would outdo them! The ‘lavan’ were so insignificant that I truly do not remember what happened as I was embroiled in the haggling over contributions towards the Gurdwara!!! The ‘highlight’ of the whole affair was a ‘reception’ at which I noticed that over 75% of the attendees had not bothered to come to the actual ‘lavan’ ceremony, the supposedly actual ‘wedding’ ceremony, that very morning!
    Closer to home, in Malaysia, I have attended a number of Sikh weddings where once again attention to detail of the ‘ladys sangeet’ night, the ‘mehndhi night’ and ‘reception’ (two of these – one by the bride’s folks and one on the bridegroom’s side) take on a greater prominence compared to the preparation and carrying out of the ‘lavan’ ceremony.

    Which ‘bhangra’ group is being hired; how the reception entertainment is going to run; and what type and quantity of alcoholic drinks are going to be served; is more important than how the ‘lavan’ ceremony is going to run. So much so, that in many instances the bridegroom has no clue as to what is expected of him during the ‘lavan’.

    He is supposed to ‘lead’ his bride through four circumambulations around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. More often than not, he gets towed around on the first circumambulation at least, like a donkey on a lead, being shown the way with the bride of course tied to him on another leash – the pela!!!
    How often have we seen the bridegroom take off in the opposite direction during the first of the ‘lavan’ if not guided? I have, witnessed that on numerous occasions. In fact, as an observer I have actually taken bets as to whether he will either not know which way to move, when to move, or take off in the opposite direction! Some of these bridegrooms have barely seen the inside of a Gurdwara before! And I am talking of ‘Sikh’ bridegrooms! Perish the thought that anyone would have thought of a rehearsal!
    I have witnessed Sikh weddings in UK held in smelly utility halls with the ‘lavan’ hastily done around a quickly rushed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the place take on the semblance of a raucious party even before the Sri Guru Granth Sahib is quickly rushed out and the booze starts flowing - and keeps going till about 4pm. when the ‘lunch’ is served! You can well imagine the state of some of the guests who have been let lose on free alcohol!
    How often was my father, a ragi commanded to do the Asa Dhi Var (morning musical prayer) on the morning of the ‘lavan’ with no one, yes ‘no one’ there to listen? How often has an Anand Karaj ceremony started on time? Very few!

    These ceremonies in Punjab (well the three I have witnessed) make the ceremonies overseas pale into insignificance! The Akal Takht management (the highest seat of authority for the Sikh religion), in its infinite wisdom came up with a Hukm Nama (edict) some years ago that a ‘lavan’ ceremony shall not take place in a building where the Sri Guru Granth Sahib would be disrespected due to alcohol being served afterwards or where alcohol is normally served ie. hotels and utility halls. No problem! The ‘Sikhs’ of Punjab came up with a very simple solution. The entrepreneurs built hundreds of ‘marriage palaces within striking distances of Gurdwaras! Below are my general observations after attending three such Sikh weddings in Ludhiana – the industrial capital of Punjab.

    The bride’s party, who are the hosts in Sikh weddings turn up first – at the allocated marriage palace at about 9am. No other guests in sight yet. But first, let me give you a quick description of one of these marriage palaces.
    It is normally in about one acre or more of land bought from a farmer, on a main trunk road. It is fenced with a cheap gaudy looking wall. The central structure is a tin shed with facades pasted on it to look like a Palace with plastic and colourful palm trees and bushes. Basically everything is plastic – even the palm trees, and come straight out of moulds. Sometimes there are multi-coloured ‘palms’! A friend told me that between Ludhiana and Mullanpur, a distance of barely 10 km. there are over one-hundred such marriage palaces! No Sikh there would dream of holding his daughters wedding in any place but a ‘marriage palace’. We know for a fact that ordinary Sikh farmers have been known to mortgage their souls to ensure that their daughters get a good send-off including gifts for the bridegroom and his party (dowry is a dirty word)!

    OK, then at about 9.30am, the bride-groom’s party turns up. The two groups stand facing each other as a priest does a short standing prayer. This is called the ‘Milni’ (the ‘meeting’ ceremony). Some take off their shoes when this happens - others do not. No one is quite sure as to what the correct protocol is! Those guys and girls with newly permed and waved hair and for the occasion special hair-do’s shuffle around not quite sure whether they should cover their heads, which they are reluctant to, as that might put their expensive perms and hairdo’s out of place, or not. The bride’s party has gifts for a number of close relatives of the bride-groom’s party – sometimes quite lavish! At one of the weddings I attended and was present at the ‘milni’ ceremony, the bride’s party handed out very thick gold rings, expensive watches and gold bangles for each of about 20 from the opposite party! But, I digress. This is, by the way, an all male affair. The women are only involved in ensuring that the right ‘gifts’ went to the right man.
    Guests start straggling in at about 10am. as the bride’s party makes a fuss of making sure that the guests – the bridegroom’s party is having a late breakfast with all sorts of sweetmeats and tea … some guests waste no time by going straight for the liquor stand… at 10am!

    At about 11am, The bride and groom, their parents and about 10-15 close ‘invited’ relatives and friends ‘excuse’ themselves apologetically, and quickly climb into a few motor vehicles – not the decked up bridal vehicle (that is only to be used when the couple depart in the late evening) – and speed off towards the nearest Gurdwara where the priests and ragis (religious minstrels) await, to quickly send the couple through the ‘lavan’. After the Gurdwara management has been duly paid for, for their services, they all rush back to the marriage palace. Meanwhile, back at the marriage palace, the guests have been helping themselves to alcohol, the teetotalers of course have soft drinks and bottomless cups of ‘cha’ (Punjabi sweet, masala tea) and all sorts of food and tidbits.

    So, between about 10am. till about 3pm. all the guests do, is eat, drink and chitchat. Then in the midst of all this eating and drinking, at about 1pm. like as if there is not enough to eat and drink already, a very elaborate ‘lunch’ is served! Of course once the couple are back from the Gurdwara, there is an elaborate ‘segen’ ceremony where every attendee – friends and relatives, come forward to congratulate the couple, wave some currency notes over their heads, place them in their laps and stand behind them to pose for photographs. Some are lugging around ‘wedding presents’ in gift boxes of all shapes and sizes.

    At about 3-4pm., and sometimes later, if they are allowed to, and the bar is still open, one can see some of those attending staggering out of these marriage palaces in various states of inebriation – some even being carried out!

    The main two parties have by now gone back to the bride’s parents’ house where preparations are made and elaborate goings-on, go on, to give the bride and groom a tearful send off – the ‘doli’ ceremony.
    Before I finally tell you of the ceremony that we had the honour of conducting, let me firstly refer to a ceremony of which I was a part of, in Virginia, USA about ten years ago. Firstly no alcohol was involved whatsoever. Secondly, the ceremony was held in a well decorated and clean hall of the Merriot Hotel. The most poignant and moving part of the ceremony was after the ‘Anand Karaj’. The bridegroom assisted by the bride, did a ‘samapti’ (closing ceremony) of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the presence of the congregation and carried the ‘Guru’ out themselves before the congregation dispersed! That, in my book, is full reverence to the ‘Guru’!

    Now to the ceremony that I wish to tell you about … On 7-10 July 2009, our group was flown to Bangkok to conduct a Sikh wedding ceremony. A Sikh young lady was marrying an American ‘white’ young man. The planning with input from us, started in late 2008. This is how the ceremony went …
    Guests started arriving on Monday 6 July. They were bussed out from Bangkok to the Hilton, Hua Hin – a coastal village about 250km. south from Bangkok, on the South China Sea coast, just north of Malaysia. Guests came from all over the world especially USA where the bride and groom and families now reside; Indonesia, Thailand and also about 30 guests from Kazakhstan where the bride’s father has business interests. Merrymaking started from that very night at various locations in Hua Hin with of course, great Thai and Indian food (including meat, if you wish to know) and alcohol!

    Our team which included my music group members plus a good Sikh friend from Singapore arrived on Wednesday 8th. As planned, we were taken straight to a Sikh family’s penthouse – the top floor of the hotel they owned, in Bangkok from where we respectfully collected the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, and took Guru Ji by vehicle to Hua Hin accompanied to the sound of our recording of the ‘sukhmani Sahib in kirtan’. At the Hilton, Hua Hin, Guru Ji was taken ceremoniously to Room No. 516 which had been specially prepared for Guru Ji’s stay. Our colleague from Singapore was appointed custodian sewadhar of Guru Ji. No party was held in that hotel that night. There was a final ‘reception’ for all guests at another location which wound up by 11pm. so that guests would all be fresh for the ‘ceremony’ the next morning.

    The conference hall at the Hilton was being decorated as we arrived. The special ‘palki sahib’ (canopy for the Sri Guru Granth Sahib) was built like a gazebo standing about 12 feet high and was roofed by fresh flowers and leaves. It looked absolutely beautiful!

    That evening the bride and groom sat down with me to ‘go through’ with the ceremony so that they knew what to do and when – a rehearsal! Unheard of, in Sikh marriages!

    At 7am, the next morning, ‘parkash’ (the opening of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib under the specially prepared canopy) was carried out. White sheets had been placed over the plush carpet and a ‘runway’ to the dais on which the Sri Guru Granth Sahib was laid open, had been prepared. The hall certainly looked as good as any Gurdwara I have seen!

    At 7.15am precisely, the young man, Ryan, arrived accompanied by his parents and a few other guests, and my colleague carried out the ‘Janam Sanskar’ (Sikh initial rite) ceremony. After the ‘amrit’ (holy nectar) had been administered to Ryan, the congregation was welcomed to partake of the ‘amrit’ and almost all did. The Hukmnama (a random passage from the Guru Ji) was read. It began with the word ‘Preet’. Ryan was duly informed that he could consult his intended parents-in-law for a choice of name for himself starting with the letter ‘P’ as Sikh protocol demands. He was very quick to request that he be named after his wife-to-be’s grandfather – Pritam Singh. He was gifted with the kirpan with which the ‘Janam Sanskar’ ceremony had been carried out and a kara (steel bangle), which was placed on his right wrist. He asked whether he could wear the kirpan for the Anand Karaj and we told him that we would be very pleased if he did!
    By this time there was already a sangat of about 50 and we sang the Asa Dhi Var.

    The Asa Dhi Var was completed by 9.30am. after which a break was announced so that everyone comes back fresh by 11am. for the big ceremony.

    Kirtan was resumed by 10.30am. with naam simran as sangat arrived back in before 11am. At precisely 11am. the bride and groom arrived with close members of both families and within one hour the Anand Karaj was carried out in both Punjabi and English so that everyone understood the significance and importance of the ceremony. The ceremony was carried out in pin-drop silence with the congregation praying for the well-being of the couple as they went through the ‘lavan’.

    Immediately after the ceremony, ‘samapti’ was carried out and Guru Ji was once again ceremoniously taken up to Room 516 accompanied by close relatives of both bride and groom.

    As special gifts, all guests received a set of our new ‘sukhmani Sahib in kirtan’ set and a simran cd.

    At Lunch, no alcohol was served and there was no further ‘reception’ after that. All other ceremonies had been concluded the night before. The ‘lavan’ was the ‘finale’.

    The Sri Guru Granth Sahib was delivered safely to the folks in Bangkok by our team, again in a respectful manner, that afternoon.
    May Waheguru grant us more such meaningful ceremonies in the future…
    Footnote:

    I shall add my two cents worth on the eternal debate on inter-racial marriages…

    I do not encourage them for obvious pitfalls just on the basis of this illusory emotion we term as ‘love’. It can also bring a great deal of pain and emotional upheaval within families. But, as it is a phenomena which is not going to go away, I believe that the couple should make a conscious decision as to which ‘faith’ or ‘religion’ or way of life they wish to live in and bring up their children, and accordingly have a ceremony within that faith or opt for a civil marriage. Having wedding ceremonies in two separate faiths just to satisfy ‘family’ makes a mockery of both faiths.

    Let me finish on an amusing (probably painful) note. Recently I met a school friend after many many years. (He is a non-Muslim) He ‘fell in love’ with a Muslim lady and of course had to convert to Islam as Islamic law demands. He said the most painful (and probably trauma-filled) part was getting circumcised according to Malay/Muslim religious requirement and described it in some details – prayers and all, blood and all. BUT, he says, “my wife knows that I was willing to go through that ‘sacrifice’ and till this day loves me dearly”!

    If you have enjoyed reading this, also look out for

    1. Full sukhmani Sahib with gutka - a must for every household!
    2. Two double cd's of old albums of kirtan titled ' Gurbani Journey Vol ! & 2.. Each double cd is priced as a single cd.
    3. Vintage Dya Singh - two live recordings which were released in very early years as cassettes. One with artistes from India and recorded in Delhi.
     

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  3. spnadmin

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    I think this is a tad too much of a cynical view. There are more and more stories about the lavan becoming a formality and overshadowed by "boozing" it up and mehindi fests.

    But there are also very spiritual experiences of lavan and some of us would be surprised to find them where we find them.

    Dya Singh, you need an extra paragraph explaining that Sikhism is now facing in more than one direction. Take some time to describe some of the better ones.
     
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  4. Astroboy

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    ਨਾਮ ਤੇਰੇ ਕੀ ਜੋਤਿ ਲਗਾਈ (Previously namjap)
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    I was sipping hot coffee just now while reading your Dya Sngh's article. I spilt coffee on my baneain (singlet in Punjabi) reading a funny part. Here it is :-



     
  5. harbansj24

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    What Dya singh describes may be the trend in a majority of Sikh weddings in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi.

    But I have also seen several well to do Sikh weddings in which the Bride Groom's party arrives punctually at 8 in the morning at the designated Gurudwara quietly in motor vehicles without any "Shor Sharaba".

    The milni ceremony is conducted with decoram. At the most the bridegroom may be teased by the female relatives of the bride which ends when he hands out cash and trinklets generously to them!
    Everyone has a light breakfast in the langar hall of the gurudwara and they move quickly to the main gurudwara where Asa Di war has started. By 11 oclock the Lavan phere are complete and a Wise Knowledgeble elder delivers sermons to the young couple about how they should conduct themselves in their married life as per Sikh maryada.

    Then after the cermony everyone congratulates the couple and the parents and all the guests move to a nearby location for sumptous alcohol free and generally vegetarian lunch. The Doli then generally leaves from the Bride's residence at around 5 in the evening and that is the end.
     
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  6. spnadmin

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    harbhansji jio

    Thank you for leveling with us and giving us the other side of the story. Much appreciated.
     
  7. spnadmin

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    On another note...


    Source The Anand Karaj and the Lavan | SikhNet


    The Anand Karaj and the Lavan

    August 11, 2009 by Daljit Singh

    http://www.{url not allowed}/files/news/2009/August/anand-1.jpg​
    It is amazing that it took quite awhile for me to appreciate the significance of the Sikh marriage ceremony called the Anand Karaj. A non-Sikh once asked me the meaning of the Second Lavan and I had to conjure up my thoughts to give him an informative response. This never actually came about since we were in the midst of the usual hurry with the marriage ceremony.

    After some time, he mentioned that he knows it now and I presume he must have asked someone else who had the time to explain it to him with great devotion and pride. I was impressed by his eagerness to know and feel that this should be the case with others.

    The anand Karaj is conducted in the presence of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and it is a sacred ceremony that binds a man and woman in a spiritual union; the spouse is a companion and life partner with whom to tread the divine path of Sikhi.

    The bond between those blessed couples grows so strong by His Grace that they become One Light (Soul) in two bodies. According to Sikh philosophy within the heart there are two souls, the Atma (Bride) and the Param-atma (The Groom); the atma is a fragmented portion of the Param-atma, liken to the finger and the finger-nail, it is One. Our Goal is to embrace face to face with Waheguru in Sachkand, the Bride and Groom as One. Marriage is both a social and religious occasion. Nowadays it seems that allowing the couple to choose each other irrespective of caste and other demands placed by both families should be the way forward.
    http://www.{url not allowed}/files/news/2009/August/anand-4.jpg

    The Lavan is the core of the Anand Karaj (the 'Ceremony of Bliss') which includes the singing of shabads whilst the couple circumambulates (circles) the Guru. It provides the couple with foundational principles of a successful marriage but places the union within the deeper context of union with God. Guru Ram Das Ji, the Fourth Guru of the Sikhs composed the four stanzas, Lavan to be sung and recited as the core of the Anand Karaj.

    In 1579, Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Mata Ganga had the unique honour of being the first couple to be wedded with the Anand Karaj.

    The Sikh tradition has been continued since then and I am concerned that in the present time, the Anand Karaj be given its respect and recognition as the core and the main priority of the Sikh ceremony.

    It appears from recent Diaries by Bhai Dya Singh Ji that the focus of marriage ceremonies has shifted to glamorous and lavish receptions and celebrations, away from the Gurdwara the doorway to the Guru. Recently, I attended an Anand Karaj in Nottingham, UK where the ceremony was done very swiftly and even during the Ardas, many members in the congregation had their hands in their pockets just impatiently waiting, it seemed to me, for the auspicious occasion to finish so that they could dash off to the Party Hall to have their food and drink. One even approached me with a smirk on his face, to ask exactly how long the ceremony would take and so on. This did not shock me particularly in these times of the Kalyug where the living souls have fallen prey to the five vices.

    'Karaj,' derived from the Sanskrit word 'karya' means literally a work or undertaking or in a more solemn sense, it means 'ceremony.' 'Anand' literally means bliss or ecstasy.

    The marriage ceremony begins with the arrival of the Barat or the bridegroom at the Gurdwara.

    Marriages have been held in hotels and banqueting halls which really is against the spirit of Sikhi since a sacred ceremony should be performed in a sacred place; such practices are against the Akal Takhat Hukamnama.

    The bride's parents and family wait at the entrance of the Gurdwara and the bridegroom stops a few steps away. The following shabad is then recited from Raag Suhi Mahella 1 (composed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji) - Hum ghar saajan aye. ("Friends have come to our home; The True One has brought about this meeting. Through love have we met by God's Grace, and we are filled with joy to meet these good souls. Thus have we attained that for which we yearned. Our wish is to meet in this way every day. My home is blessed. Music is sounding within me for Friends have come to our home.")

    After the shabad has been recited, ardas is offered. Then the milni (informal family meeting) takes place and the barat is taken into the Gurdwara. The party proceeds into the Darbar Sahib where the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is enthroned on a decorated palanquin. The bridegroom, now joined by the bride, firstly bow to the Guru and then sit in front of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji for the ceremony to be conducted by the Raagis and the Granthi.

    At the outset, the following shabad is recited from Sloka in Raag Sri composed by Guru Nanak Dev Ji: Kita lodiye kam so Har pai akhiye: To seek success in any undertaking, request the blessing of God. By the Grace of His teaching, your objective will be fulfilled. In the company of the Holy, drink the nectar of goodness. Oh dispeller of fear, protects Thy servant. Sayeth Nanak, by singing His praises one may experience the Infinite Lord.

    The actual ceremony begins with the offering of a special ardas by only the bride and groom and their respective parents whilst the rest are seated. Upon the completion of the ardas, the couple and their parents bow to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and sit down and prepare for the bliss ceremony to unfold.
    http://www.{url not allowed}/files/news/2009/August/anand-3.jpg

    Thus begins a series of golden moments, full of love and sacredness. The Granthi takes the vak - that is reciting the first shabad on a page opened at random, which invariably dictates the personal message of the day as well as for the rest of the life of the couple. Some of them do not even understand or take heed of this Hukamnama which is the Guru's personal communication to the couple. After the vak, the bride's father takes the palla or shawl, and places in the hands of the daughter. This can be very emotional as the father knows that he is giving his daughter away and that she is departing from his care and tears start welling in the eyes of the parents. This action is accompanied by the following sloka in Raag Ramkali composed by Guru Arjan Dev Ji; Ustat ninda, Nanak, ji mai hab vanjayi chodiya hab kichh tiyagi, Habay sak kudavay ditthe tau pallai tende laagi. ("I have become immune to praise and criticism, Oh Nanak, and have renounced attachment to things of the world having seen that worldly attachments are false. Knowing this, I hold on to your shawl.")

    The next stage is the Lavan itself - the four marriage vows in verse form.

    The Four verses of the Lavan are recited from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and then sung as the Anand Karaj takes place. These verses were composed by Guru Ram Das Ji, in the measure of Suhi in the form of Chhants.

    'Lavan' literally means 'break away' since the bride is breaking away from her parents' house and uniting with the husband's family. The verses of the Lavan describe the aspects and stages of marital love between the husband and wife, as the marriage of two people in the unity of two souls rather than just a physical relationship.

    In spiritual terms, the Lavan is about the union of the human soul, the Atman, with God, Parmatma. In worldly terms, the four hymns of the Lavan are the four vows of the marriage. Each verse is first read by the Granthi, the Raagis then sing it in the form of kirtan. It is good to have a Raagi Jatha who with his melodious voice, has the ability to explain the lav clearly and keep the interest of the congregation in high spirits. During the singing of each verse, the couple bows to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, and then gets up and walks around(clockwise) the Guru, and at the time they arrive back at their seats in front of the Guru, the singing of the verse is complete. This is repeated for the second, third and fourth round, and each time the couple bows to the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Close brothers and nephews form a half circle around the Guru to guide the bride and give her all the support they can muster. It is all Guru Ji's Grace for this momentous occasion.
    http://www.{url not allowed}/files/news/2009/August/anand-2.jpg

    The first verse of the lavan is in Raag Suhi composed by Guru Ram Das Ji: "Har pahldi lav parvirti karam dridaya Bal Ram jio..."

    "In the first round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord gives you His instructions for married life. Instead of performing rituals by routine, embrace the righteous life of Dharma, and do nothing that separates you from God. Meditate on God’s Name. Embrace and practice Simran - the continuous remembrance of your True Identity. Worship and adore the Guru, the Perfect True Guru, and all the errors of your past shall be washed away. By your great destiny, you shall know that bliss which passes all understanding, and the Lord - Har, Har, will become sweet to your mind. Servant Nanak proclaims that in this first round, the marriage ceremony has begun."
    The first verse of Lavan is about letting go of the past and embarking on a new beginning. It stresses that the center of the marriage is spiritual and that the success of the marriage rests on the couple having a daily spiritual practice.

    The second verse is, "Har doojdi lav Satgur purukh milaya Bal Ram jio...."

    "In the second round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord guides you to meet the True Guru - the One Teacher. Filled with the awe of the Infinite, your ego dissolves away. In awe of the One who is forever pure, sing His Wonderful Praises and see God in all. The Lord - the Supreme Soul, is the Master of the Universe. He fills everything, everywhere. He fills all spaces. Deep within you, and outside you as well, see only One God. God’s humble servants meet together and sing the songs of joy and ecstasy. Servant Nanak proclaims that in this second round, the music of the spheres resounds."
    The second verse states that the Guru is the centre of the marriage and that such a marriage is filled with joy and ecstasy.

    The third verse is: "Har teejdi lav man chao bhiya bairagiya Bal Ram jio...."

    "In the third round of the marriage ceremony your heart is filled with Divine Love. By my great destiny I have met the humble Saints who love the Lord and I have found God. I have found the pure Lord and I sing His Wonderful Praises. I sing the Guru’s Bani. By great good destiny I have found the humble Saints and I speak in the silent language of the Infinite. The Lord’s Name - Har, Har, Har, vibrates and resounds within my heart. Meditating on God, I have realized the great destiny written on my forehead. Servant Nanak proclaims that in this third round, the heart is full of Divine Love of the One God."
    The third verse gives the understanding that both love and liberation lie within the Sadhsangat - the company of those who do sadhana and gather together for worship. It is through this that we realize our destiny.

    The fourth verse is: "Har choutdi lav man sahaj bhiya Har paiya Bal Ram jio...."

    "In the fourth round of the marriage ceremony I have found God and my mind is filled with peace. Living as a Gurmukh, I have met Him with simple ease. My mind and body are full of sweet delight. I am pleasing to God - and night and day I lovingly focus my awareness on Him. I have merged with the One in everyone and all my desires are fulfilled. The Lord’s Name resounds and reverberates within me and all around me. The One God, my Lord and Master, merges with His Divine Bride and her heart blossoms with His Holy Naam. Servant Nanak proclaims that in this fourth round, we have become One with the Eternal Lord."
    The fourth verse is the final stage which relates to Sahaj Avastha (stage of harmony) and the fulfillment of the goal of life. It is the stage of union when married life is completely blended with love for God. This is the stage when the couple becomes one Soul in two bodies.

    Immediately thereafter the first five verses of the Anand Sahib (song of bliss) composed by Guru Amar Das Ji are recited: Raag Ramkali Mahalla teja: "Anand biya meri maye Satguru mai paiya. These verses express ineffable joy at experiencing union with God and the desire to maintain that union and to never to forget the source of all joy and to always remember that one's true identity is one with the Infinite One.

    The next shabad to be recited expressed the joy of the bride in having acquired her life partner. Here again the shabad is a tribute to God and expresses joy at having attained union with the Infinite.

    Raag Sri Mahall 4:"Vivah hoa mere Babulla..."

    "O my father I am married. By the Guru's Grace I have attained the Lord. The darkness of ignorance has been dispelled and I now understand the Will of God. Understanding of the Guru's wisdom has dawned within me. Darkness has vanished and I have found the gift of the Divine Jewel. The blight of ego has disappeared. My pain has ended and I am filled with Divine understanding for I have realised the Eternal and the Indestructible, who is immortal and Omnipresent. O my father, by the Guru's Grace I am married. I have attained the Lord."
    Then following the shabad is recited to signify that everyone's wishes have been fulfilled by the Grace of God: Raag Vadhaans, composed by Guru Arjan Dev Ji: "Poori asa Ji meri mansa...."

    "O my Lord, all my expectations and desires are fulfilled. I am empty. All virtues lie within You. O my Lord, all virtues are Yours. I have no words to express them. You have no concern for my faults. All is forgiven in a moment. I have been blessed with the Nine Spiritual Treasures* and am in total bliss. Says Nanak, I have found God within myself and all my sorrows have flown away."
    http://www.{url not allowed}/files/news/2009/August/anand-6.jpg

    This very unique ceremony concludes with the Ardas of the Sangat which blesses the couple along with everyone gathered.

    Again a vak is recited at random which gives a message for everyone assembled. Karah Prasad is distributed to all and the couple is garlanded with fragrant garlands and gifts are exchanged. The nearest and dearest also sprinkle flower petals on the couple and also a fresh garland is placed over the rumalla (dressing cloths) of the Sri Granth Sahib Ji. The relatives congratulate the parents of the couple and the celebration goes on.

    At the end of the ceremony, everyone either moves into the Langar Hall for langar but in most cases, a reception is held elsewhere, and the party begins.

    Those who value the real significance of the Aanad Karaj and Lavan are contented with the community langar (vegetarian meal) served in the Gurdwara. I have witnessed many Anand Karaj and have been particularly impressed with the organisation and preparation at Guru Nanak Sewak Jatha, Soho Road, Birmingham.

    * In the context of Gurbani the Nau-Nidh or Nine Treasures come through the experience of Naam. They are:

    1. Bharosa - faith. A deep and awareness of the presence of God.
    2. Leenta - An absolute and deep attachment to the Infinite.
    3. Santokh - Contentment
    4. Non-attachment to family, friends and worldly possessions.
    5. Hukam - Awareness of God's will and complete surrender to it.
    6. Sehaj - Equilibrium and equipoise of the mind.
    7. Anand - Perpetual delight and a deep sense of joy.
    8. Vismaad - Ecstasy. The moment-to-moment awareness of Ang Sang Waheguru - the presence of God in every fibre and cell of one's body.
    9. Nadar - Humility. The understanding that all blessings in one's life come by the Grace of God and not as a result of one's own efforts.

    Acknowledgements: Beliefs and Practices by Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi:
     
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  8. TeraRoop11

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    Just wondering, what exactly is 'Janam Sanskar'? Sounds like a very strange version of an Amrit Sanchar.
     
  9. spnadmin

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    Naming ceremony. Mostly for babies :) But also for adults who convert to Sikhism and want a Sikh name.

    P/S though I don't know how the gift of the kirpan entered into it. Maybe yes a kara, but the other k's that were given here do make it sound as if the naming ceremony was "upgraded" to a shade short of amrit ceremony.
     
  10. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Thats exactly how we did the Ananad Karaj of my younger brother dr Karminder singh...there were only 5 of us in the Janj..and the milni/tea/lavana nd lunch all took place in the Gurdwara..all over by 12 noon. No other fuss.The Doli also departed fom the Gurdwara premises.
    The Namdharees began a serious effort at improving this...but since they became a cult/separate group... Sikhs have gone from bad to worse... Baba Ram singh ahd began Rs 1.25 marriage. Nothing more.

    We need to quickly get back to basics..and the BOYS are the ones to make the DECISION. IF the BOY (groom) sticks to his decision of no dowry, no party bash, no liquor etc..i don't see how anyone else can force all this..
     
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  11. Balkar Singh

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    Bhai Dya Singh Jio, Gurufateh !!!
    I whole-heartededly thank you for taking up one of the most important topic for discussion. All of our four Sanskaars are drived so away from Gururmat that not even the Antim sanskaar (last rites) is spared. People come to 'eat drink and
    marry'. The vulgar shows are called 'the culture'. It's all manmatt.
    The most important transformation of one's life, to the 'Parvirti-marg' must be dedicated to the satguru's way of life. Today's hue and cry for the neglected oldies is the result of this direful trend only.
    I try to escape such market-marriges. I have , in my sweet memories, the anand-Kaarj at Amrit-bela attented 'Suche-mooh' (before eating anything) by the
    marrige party and all the village people.The secred ceremony of Anand-kaarj was performed on completion of 'Asa di Vaar' kirtan and after getting krah-parshad, krah-poori and milk was served in the Guru ka langer. My father requested my in-laws to follow that tradition . The sanctity of the ceremony has given me a feeling of bliss all my life.
     
  12. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    Narayan Jot Kaur Jio,
    Gurfateh.

    The KIRPAN is normally carried by the GROOM...its for SELF DEFENCE as in olden times the Grooms party could be attacked by Highway Men and Robbed of his wealth and wife.
    The Rajasthanis also follow this custom..so its cultural and not religious. Otherwise it looks out of sync to have a visibly clean shaven groom carrying one of the 5 Ks of an Amrtidharee !!

    The Janam Sanskaar is for BABIES...the new mother, babay and family coem to the Gurdwara where the Garnthi will read japji Sahib over some sugar water, do ardass, take Hukmnama for the naming ceremony. The water is drunk by the mother and sprinkled on the BABY. The Name is from the first letter of the Hukm...

    The SRM is silent on ADULTS..simply becasue an ADULT is supposed to be of AGE to COMMIT to Khandrey dee Pahul and 5 Ks...NOT the "Baby version". THAT is strictly for BABIES. An adult wishing to take a Sikh name performs ardass and takes hukmnama...anbd the Name is chosen form the firts letter as usual. ON Taking Amrti/Khandety dee Pahul, the PANJ will usuaslly give a NEW NAME..and IF already having a SIKH name oen can keep the original name.

    This havign japji sahib..sugar water and everyoen taking a sip is all out of SRM. I wont call it MANMATT as it is..well minor infarction...doing things ?......MY WAY"...One CANNOT become an amrtidharee by going thru this...and IF just desirous of a SIKH Name..then ardass and hukm is enough.
     
  13. spnadmin

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    Gyani ji

    Thanks for helping the answer to the question above gradually fill in with more detail.

    That makes sense -- the groom in the story was being given a kirpan because he was going to be married soon after the naming ceremony.

    Also: I myself never heard of a Janam Sanskar for adults :roll: and did not have one myself. But there are some people on the net who have talked about it for adults. I remember 2 stories about that. And even one Singh who keeps a blog told me that I should ask for one at my gurdwara. I think now having read your remarks that he meant what you described and I misunderstood him. I checked SRM at that time, and there is definitely nothing there for naming adults.
     
  14. Gyani Jarnail Singh

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    narayanjot Kaur Ji,
    Gurfateh.

    Such "ceremonies" are born when INDIVIDUALS take upon themselves the ROLE reserved for the PANJ.
    SRM is very clear that ONLY the PANJ can administer Khandey Batteh dee Pahul(Amrti sanskaar) in the Presence of the SGGS and ADMIT an ADULT/of age teenager/ who has made the Commitment in full Hosh awaas..with his MENTAL faculties working. So one cannot be forced..coerced..or otherwise given this unvoluntarily.

    However certain indiviiduals love to USURP this Authority.."sants" do it..derawallahs do it..and kirtaniyas and Granthis do it...and since they are NOT the PANJ..they do a BABY VERSION !!...as a matter of fact in Hazoor Sahib and in Nihungs..WOMEN are Given ONLY "KIRPAN AMRIT"..and this is performed by ONE Individual. It seems to these people that Khandey da pahul is reserved only for MALES.

    IN MALAYSIA..such "individuals" have taken it upon themsleves to "convert" a NOn-SIKH ..on the SPOT with such japji Sahib "amrit"..so that he/she can be married as a SIKH before the SGGS (anand Karaj). This is becasue the Gurdwaras follow the SRM very strictly and AK can only take palce before the SGGS IF BOTH parties are SIKH. So such individuals arrange for a Granthi at a HOME...go through the Japji sahib amrit ceremony, declare the initiate a SIKH..give him/her a sikh name..and carry out the AK...after which the person sometimes resumes His her previous religion./Original NAME !!
    Gurdawras DO NOT marry Non-Sikhs....as Anand Karaj and SGGS has significance only to a SIKH...IF the partner refuses to convert to a SIKH before the PANJ and commit..then the couple can go marry anyway they like...BUT many are stubborn that they want a "sikh marriage"...and so resort to this short cut....some will then later go to a Hidnu Mandir for the Hidnu Version as well because the other partner may be Hindu !!/buddhist etc.
     
  15. Huck_Finn

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    i am somehow reminded of the janeu ceremony
     
  16. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    and i like the way you spray painted your cat...
    is that an initiation ceremony too ( for cats i mean):D:D:D
     
  17. Huck_Finn

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    that's photo shop Gyani ji :)

    i see that you think only in physical realm ;)
     
  18. spnadmin

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    Actually there is a lady who wrote a book Why Paint Cats. And she actually paints them. With vegetable die. Some of the designs are off planet. The book caused a controversy a few years back. Naturally everyone had an opinion. Huck Finn ji your avatar is a clip from her book! If you want the link I think I can retrieve it.
     
  19. Huck_Finn

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    so the point of discussion is the cat or janeu?
    :hmm:
     
  20. spnadmin

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    The cat that is decorated is an analogy - in the context of this thread only - for the tillak but not the janeau. You ask an excellent question. :advocate:
     
  21. spnadmin

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    QFT: So latecomers to the discussion are not confused. Just after I noted that the Huck Finn ji's avatar was a clip of a painted cat from a well known book on the subject, Finn ji changed his avatar to a yellow duck. :D
     

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