Q111. What is the Anand Marriage?
The Anand form of marriage was given a statutory recognition in 1909, under the Anand Marriage Act. It has been observed since the early days of Sikhism. Sikh boys and girls are married according to its form when they are grown-up and fit to undertake matrimonial responsibilities. Marriages are generally arranged and assisted by parents, though there is no bar to the boy and the girl arranging it on their own.
The marriage ceremony is simple but impressive. The bride and the bridegroom along with their relatives and friends form a congregation in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. The couple and their parents then stand and an Ardas is offered to seek God's blessing. The person in charge of the function addresses the bride and the bridegroom individually and explains to them their duties in the new life which they are about to enter. Anand marriage is sacrament. The Guru is a witness to the marriage. No writing or document is necessary. The bridegroom is to vow fidelity to the wife - Istribrat Dharam while the bride is to vow fidelity to her husband - Patibrat Dharam. The husband is to protect the life and honor of his wife, she is to remain content with the lot of her husband and her treatment in the husband's house. The couple signify their consent by bowing before the Guru Granth Sahib. Then the scarf of the bridegroom is placed in the hands of bride. The Granthi or the officiating person, reads the lavan - the epithalamium of Guru Ramdas. Each stanza explains in detail a stage in the development of a life of love. The first stage is the performance of duties to the family and the community. The second stage is that of selfless love and holy fear which provide opportunities for devoted service and sacrifice - the discipline needed to facilitate the feeling of yearning and enthusiasm. Even troubles provide opportunities for service and sacrifice, and are therefore helpful to love. The third stage is that of detachment: Vairag. Human love is superseded by divine love. The fourth stage is that of harmony or union. The bride and bridegroom are completely identified with each other.
After the reading of each stanza, the couple go round the Guru Granth Sahib, the bridegroom leading the bride, while the stanza is sung to the accompaniment of musical instruments. After the completion of the lavan, the Anand Sahib is read. Finally the Ardas after which Karah Parsad is distributed to all present. Monogamy is practiced by the Sikhs.