Guru Amar Das introduced the concept of Anand Karaj in the Sikh tradition. It basically means the blissful or the joyful union of the couple in holy matrimony as per the Sikh culture and traditions. The wedding ceremony or Anand Karaj, conducted as per the Sikh traditions, includes the following rituals
Gathering Of Friends and Family
All the friends and family members of both the groom and the bride assemble in a Gurudwara where the ceremony for Anand Karaj is scheduled to be held. Sometimes, the ceremony may also be conducted in some marriage hall, however, the presence of Guru Granth is mandatory, or else the ceremony shall not be considered complete or official. After assembling in the Gurudwara, all the boys and men sit on one side of the central isle, while the women and girls sit on the other side of the isle. Everyone sits with their legs crossed and sing hymns praising the Lord and seeking his blessings for the couple about to get married.
Seeking Divine Blessings
The groom and the bride kneel down before the Guru Granth Sahib and pray for his blessings in order to achieve love and happiness in their married life. They then sit beside each other right in the front of the hall, while their parents stand right next to them, signifying that they have given their consent to the holy matrimony of the couple. At this point, everyone else continues to remain seated, while a Sikh offers an Ardas for the couple, which is nothing but a prayer for the couple requesting that their marriage becomes a huge success.
Participants in an Anand Karaj Ceremony
Besides the friends and family members of the groom and the bride, some of the most important participants in a Sikh wedding ceremony are as follows:
These musicians are also called Ragis and they sit on a low stage and sing hymns called the Keeta Loree-ai Kaam. These hymns seek strength for the couple so that they can fulfill their commitment towards their relationship and do so through divine grace.
It is the job of the Sikh wedding official to advise the soon to be husband and wife about their duties towards each other. He recites verses from Dhan Phir Eh Na Akhee-an, which basically tells the couple that they need to care for each other not just because of social and civil reasons, but also because they are now committed to each other spiritually as well. Examples of Sikh couples are given to tell the marrying couple that marriage and religion are deeply connected and any disrespect towards this marriage would be disrespect towards the Sikh religion.
Completing the Ceremony
The sister or some female relative of the groom drapes long scarf or shawl around the shoulders of the groom and places its ends in his hands. The father of the bride then takes the left end of this Palla and places it in the hands of the bride. Ragis sing the four wedding hymns of Lavan, while the couple takes four rounds around the Guru Granth holding the Palla. Finally, two more hymns are sung to conclude the ceremony and everyone stands to offer final prayers for the couple and the Sikh reads a Hukam concluding the ceremony.