Whilst many of us are familiar with what happens during the Anand Karaj, it’s different when it’s your turn to participate in it. This blog will take you through exactly what you will need to do as a bride during the Anand Karaj. Though please note that there is always some variation in the ceremony, so take this only as a rough guide. It can be helpful to ask friends/family that have recently gotten married for advice on this, especially if they were married in the same Gurudwara as you. I’m not knowledgeable enough to delve into the deeper meanings of the ceremony, however I would strongly recommend to anyone getting married through any type of religious ceremony to do their own research on the significance and meaning of it. Especially with the Anand Karaj as it is one of the most important religious commitments you will make in your life. There are many courses offered by various Sikh groups that will be able to teach you all about the Anand Karaj both online and in person.
Things you can do before the Anand Karaj
Listen to the Gurbani that forms the Anand Karaj regularly before your wedding. Mentally it will help you to connect to the ceremony, and if you’re like me and can’t understand Punjabi very well it will help you to be able to tell the different sections apart, and learn your cues for the Lavaan and Ardas.
Practise standing up and sitting down in your lehenga, if possible also do a few practise runs with whoever will be sitting behind you on the day too. As they will have to pull your lehenga out as you sit down so it doesn’t end up bunched all around you. If you have a heavy tikka/ matha patthi or big kaleeray practise wearing those too.
Have bags ready for the shagun line at the end of the ceremony, as otherwise you’ll have to put it all in the palla and that can get messy.
Consider wearing legging or knee length shorts under your lehenga. If you sweat, they will absorb it and if you need to go toilet you can just drop your skirt and run. Also, it’s more comfortable wearing them when you are sitting on the floor.
Check with the Gurudwara Committee when/where the grooms kalgi should be removed and if the shagun line will happen in or outside of the Darbar.
Practise sitting cross legged too, especially the groom!
Selecting the girls that will sit behind you
The girls that sit behind you may seem like a small detail, but if you pick the right people they will really make a difference. They will be responsible for helping you get up/down, keeping your lehenga straight and keeping you updated on what’s going on or what you need to do next. I’d stick to 3 or 4 girls maximum to stop things getting too crowded. When picking the girls try and select people that are already married or have a good knowledge of the ceremony, so you can make the most of their knowledge on your day. Also, girls that have sat behind the bride before are helpful as they know what they are doing. Most importantly, pick people that you like hanging out with as it’s always nice to be surrounded by your loved ones. Make sure that they know they will be sitting behind you in advance so there is no confusion on the day.
The below sections aren’t the complete ceremony, just the parts where you or the groom will have to do something:
Arriving At The Gurudwara
I just want to mention here that once you arrive at the Gurudwara you go straight to a waiting room until it’s time to enter the Darbar. The photographer may use this time to get some portraits and someone should bring you breakfast, however you could be there for a couple of hours so make sure you have people to keep you company!
The groom enters the Darbar, Matha Tek’s and sits either at the front or to the side (until the bride enters) depending on the Gurudwara. Check with the Gurudwara Committee if his kalgi should be removed before or after he enters the Darbar. If after, the groom’s sister/s will then come and remove the kalgi and leave it in front of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
Kurmai (if not done already)
The Kurmai starts with an Ardas, in which only the groom and both sets of parents participate. The Groom and parents will have to Matha Tek, stand up, Matha Tek during the Ardas and then again before they sit down. The groom sits on the men’s side at the front and the bride’s father comes and gifts him with dried fruit and some money. It either goes in his palla or a separate bag. Someone may need to be on standby to touch up the grooms palla after this.
The groom will go back to the front before the bride enters.
You will enter holding a Ramaal (though bouquets are becoming popular now too) and place the Ramaal in front of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, then Matha Tek and sit next to the groom. Your photographer may tell you to turn and smile at him when you sit down.
Your friends/ sisters should be sitting behind you to help manage your lehenga. When you sit down you need to kick your lehenga out behind you to avoid sitting in all the net and crushing it. The girls behind you need to grab the skirt from the most inside layer and pull that out behind you. It’s helpful if they grab the inside layer whist you stand up, then pull it out as you sit down. The aim of this is to ensure you are sitting on the mat with nothing stuck underneath you (hence the leggings), with your lehenga nicely fanned out around you.
The next time you and the groom will have to stand up is for the first Ardas. For this Ardas only you, the groom and both sets of parents will stand up. You must Matha Tek before you stand up, before you sit down and during the Ardas. Normally you do the 2nd Matha Tek at “Nanak Naam Chardi Kala”, but this does vary.
During the palla ceremony your farther will come behind you and take the end of the palla that is not in the grooms lap and place it in your hands. Wrap the palla around your hand so it doesn’t slip and hold tight! You will have to hold on to the palla for the rest of the ceremony.
For each Laav you will Matha Tek, stand up, let your the groom go in front and then follow him around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. If your lehenga is quite heavy, try kicking it in front of you as you walk so it doesn’t get caught in your legs. Keeping a nice slow pace is key here and you can always give the groom a tug if he’s going too fast! Once you’ve completed the round, walk behind the groom and stand next to him. This avoids you pulling the palla off him. If you went too fast during the round you may have to stay there until the Laav is finished. There will normally be a signal when you can sit down again. Matha Tek again before you sit down and that Laav is complete. Each Laav is announced before it starts so you know when to get up, however if you’re worried about standing up and sitting down at the correct time ask someone to give you a nudge every time you need to do something.
You do the same as the first Ardas, however this time everyone participates in it. As normal you will have to Matha Tek before, after and during. Though by this one you should be a pro!
You’re officially married now! All you have to do is sit there and smile. This will either take place inside the Darbar after the Raagis have finished, or outside of it depending on the Gurudwara Committee. This will probably be the hardest part to get through, but at least you get blessings.
I hope this helped! If I’ve made any mistakes, please let me know!