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Crash Course: Things you need to know before you have a backyard Anand Karaj

By:
Vaneet Kaur (@veekaur_)

With wedding season coming close to an end after barely getting started due to COVID, those getting married and vendors have had to get creative with their setups because of restrictions.

While this year, couples couldn't have their Bollywood inspired, over the top productions and had to opt for intimate weddings, vendors have really surprised us by sharing their client’s success stories over social media that have been nothing less than a major vibe.

The inspiration is endless and it is quite impressive to see what people have been doing to transform their big day given the circumstances.

Having to opt for a backyard Anand Karaj has become a norm over this wedding season, and I wanted to use this opportunity and platform to share why the Anand Karaj is considered sacred and it's not just your average wedding ceremony. 

Roughly translated, the Anand Karaj is considered to be the blissful union between the souls of the couple getting married and the divine being.

During the four laavan, each laav explains the journey of the souls and the commitment you are making not only to your partner, but also to vaheguru. The Anand Karaj is a guru-centric ceremony, and it is important to prioritize Guru Granth Sahib Jee to be at the core of your relationship and honour and work to attain the commitment being made.

Before I get started, it is important to understand the commitment you are making, before your big day, so to break down what each laav means: 

In the First Laav: "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 will become sweet to your mind. Servant Nanak proclaims that in this first round, the marriage ceremony has begun."  

In the Second Laav: "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."

In the Third Laav: “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 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."

In the Fourth Laav: “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."

We now have a basic understanding of what the 4 laavan mean, (for a more in depth explanation, click here), and now it is onto Anand Karaj etiquette. 

When your Anand Karaj takes place in a Gurudwara, the etiquette is already established, because well, it’s a Gurudwara. Please note that if you opt for a backyard Anand Karaj, that same etiquette is applied.

The court of the Guru needs to maintain an order of the utmost respect, humility, and positive vibes.

For photographers and decor vendors as well as the bride and groom, please note that the space where Guru Granth Sahib Jee is meant to be placed -- it is not a space for you to hold stylized shoots.

Yes, the physical space itself may feel convenient, but the Guru is not a prop and the throne created for the Guru should not be a place for you to stand or stand on or under.

Remember that the Anand Karaj is Guru-centric and not meant to be an aesthetic. It is about the intention that is being set and upholding respect for the Guru.

With that, it is important to thoroughly clean the area that you are bringing the Guru into, and that means keeping drugs, alcohol, and all things party off the property  until things have been moved out from the area. It is about maintaining the highest level of respect and etiquette that needs to be prioritized. 

While there is a prescribed set of rules when it comes to an Anand Karaj,  oftentimes, things get lost in translation and we forget or we mistake them for superstitions and made up rules.

Regardless, it is important to seek advice and guidance from those familiar with these protocols if one is engaging in any type of religious ceremony, to ensure that it is done in a respectful, intentional manner.

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