The focus of this report is to understand the Gurmat (the Guru’s Way) components of the Anand Karaj, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle). The principles expressed throughout the lava (interlinks) has a multidimensional meaning. There is a worldly literal description of the union between a husband and wife but also a metaphorical, genderless understanding of the human condition which would transcend across all sexual orientations and/or genders.
A global survey, included in the report, presented nearly 1,000 self- identified Sikhs with questions related to the rights to participate in the Anand Karaj ceremony. The survey highlights the discrepancies apparent within the Sikh population as of 2017. It suggests that organizations cannot remain passive to such community issues.
This study presents recommendations based on the Gurmat components on a personal and institutional level as a way to better understand, implement, and proceed with the Anand Karaj ceremony. Organizations need to take a more active role in engaging with a changing Sikh population, whether that be in addressing inter-faith marriages or same-sex couple marriages. On an individual level, Sikhs are prompted to reflect on why they are undergoing a Sikh marriage ceremony. The ultimate focus on the Anand Karaj is one’s commitment to Guru Granth Sahib and a desire to live a life as outlined by Guru Sahib.
It is found that the Sikh marriage ceremony of Anand Karaj is a unique initiation into married life for Sikhs. The Anand Karaj highlights the ideal life trajectory or model for one’s path in life as a Sikh. Those who wish and choose to abide by the Sikh paradigm and Gurmat lifestyle join a historical tradition that was built on Oneness, spirituality, and simplicity.
The Anand Karaj (literally, “blissful act”), the Sikh marriage ceremony, is one of the major life events a Sikh may undergo. The Anand Karaj itself consists of four lava (interlinks) in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. The lava, popularly transliterated as lavaan or lavan, come as lav or the plural lava in Guru Granth Sahib. These lava make up the main aspect of the Anand Karaj. A variety of cultural practices tend to be included throughout the wedding festivities in Sikh families. The focus of this work is to discuss solely the Anand Karaj ceremony and is less related to other events or practices seen throughout weddings.
In recent times, the Anand Karaj has come to the forefront of community issues in regards to the right to participate in the ceremony, specifically where inter-caste, inter-race, and sexuality come into play.
A survey of 948 self-identified Sikhs from 20 different countries was conducted to summarize the 2017 Sikh population’s understanding of the rights to participate in the Anand Karaj ceremony. The survey showed distinct divides in terms of who may be able to participate specifically in the Sikh context of marriage. The survey also highlights the discrepancies apparent within the community as well as identifies where institutional educational efforts can be focused.
This study makes recommendations on a personal and institutional level that can be used by individuals and organizations to better understand, implement, and proceed with the Anand Karaj ceremony.
The focus of this report is to understand the Gurmat (the Guru’s Way) components of the Anand Karaj, as inferred from Bani (wisdom), Tavarikh (history), and Rahit (lifestyle).