The Groom Enters
Welcoming hymns about the auspicious event are sung by Raagis as the groom enters. He presents a Rumala Sahib for the Guru Granth Sahib and bows before it, pressing his brow to the earth. The groom always takes a seat on the right-hand side facing the Guru Granth Sahib.
The Bride Enters
The bride also has a Rumala Sahib as an offering and pays her respects to the Guru Granth Sahib by bowing before it. She will then take a seat to the left of her bridegroom prepared for the actual ceremony to begin. Following a short prayer, regarding the pair and their parents, the bride and groom bow before the altar to indicate they agree to their responsibilities to each other as equal partners. The father of the bride will then take the end of a ceremonial stole worn by the bridegroom (the Palla) and put it in the hands of his daughter to indicate that she is now in her husband’s care.
The Granthi will then begin to read the four verses known as the Laavan while the Raagis sing each verse as the bride and groom joined by the palla, walk around the Guru Granth Sahib and do their nuptial rounds.
During the nuptial rounds the brothers of the bride may gather around the Guru Granth Sahib Ji to pass their sister between her brothers – this was traditionally done because the bride could not reveal her face before the Anand Karaj was complete, so she couldn’t see where she was walking without her brothers guiding her.
The word Laavan is a spiritual term used for the union of ‘Atma’ (Soul Bride) with the ‘Parmatma’ (Divine Groom). Each Laav has a verse associated with it which describes the different spiritual stages of married life, ending with the soul-bride and divine groom realising their ultimate destiny as one soul. The Laavan represent the fusing of the soul of the bride and groom into one conscious being who is subsequently wedded to God in spiritual union. The Laavan hymns are vows composed by the fourth Prophet, Guru Ram Das Ji (1534 to 1581 CE) which he wrote for the occassion of his own wedding to Bibi Bhani.
When the couple circle the Guru Granth Sahib, each time they are making a commitment to God with the Guru as their spiritual witness and support. As the couple circles the Sri Guru Granth Sahib they are reminded that the Guru should be the center of their lives, from which springs their spiritual leadership and understanding that they require for their soul’s long journey across this ‘world ocean’.