Anand Karaj in Melbourne with Gatka and Tanti Saaj
Planning a wedding is never an easy task. Being a Gursikh couple we wanted a simple ceremony but we were afraid we would have to give in to our parents and society demands as we had not seen any example to lead us. Aside from standing up to huge societal pressures, and battling with our own temptations we also needed to be careful to not gain ego from our efforts either.
Before commencing we did Ardaas, asking Guru Ji to allow us to arrange our Anand Karaj as Seva to Him rather than to ourselves. Through Kirpa, we started to more clearly see double mindedness within us; on one path we wanted Gurmat and on the other we were being led by temporary pleasures and keeping others happy with a traditional Punjabi wedding. As the days went past this Ardaas became an affirmation as we observed our thoughts and desires starting to change from within.
We used this as an anchor with every decision we made; to not have an after party, have sangat as our guests, requesting a simple dress code, not wear makeup and even when deciding indoor décor. We kept ourselves in check by continually asking ‘Is this decision going to help Guru’s message or distract us from it?’. Everyone wanted to spend more money, invite more people, be more grand…. But we both knew by that time that material show-off would not last long and we stuck by the eternal wisdom guiding us. Slowly the resistance shown by our family and others started to seem distant as Guru became our shining light.
There were definitely some aspects that we had tried to remove but they were too embedded in our customs to have changed – rather than hurting our elders or becoming bitter, we again turned to Gurbani and were reminded that eventually everything is in Bhaana and did the best we could on at least a personal level. We started vichaar of Laavan and other shabads daily with each other – this was a truly profound and humbling experience and we definitely recommend every couple do this before their Anand Karaj.
I felt worried some of the shabads sang prior would feel ritualistic, but given all the events these were perfect and really resonated with me at that time:
ਉਸਤਤਿ ਨਿੰਦਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਜੀ ਮੈ ਹਭ ਵਞਾਈ ਛੋੜਿਆ ਹਭੁ ਕਿਝੁ ਤਿਆਗੀ ॥
उसतति निंदा नानक जी मै हभ वञाई छोड़िआ हभु किझु तिआगी ॥
Usṯaṯ ninḏā Nānak jī mai habẖ vañā▫ī cẖẖoṛi▫ā habẖ kijẖ ṯi▫āgī.
From my mind, O Nanak, I have wholly banished praising and slandering others and have forsaken and abandoned all other worldly affairs.
ਹਭੇ ਸਾਕ ਕੂੜਾਵੇ ਡਿਠੇ ਤਉ ਪਲੈ ਤੈਡੈ ਲਾਗੀ ॥੧॥
हभे साक कूड़ावे डिठे तउ पलै तैडै लागी ॥१॥
Habẖe sāk kūṛāve diṯẖe ṯa▫o palai ṯaidai lāgī. ||1||
I have seen all the kinsmen to be false; then have I attached myself to Thine skirt, O my Lord.
This shabad is sung when the ‘Palla’ is given to the bride.
By that time, my internal experience was to let go of what society and people were saying. I saw relationships to be temporary and instead trusted and wanted to serve only the Permanent Wisdom. I held tightly to the Palla (Wisdom) given to me by Guru ji as the Anand Karaj commenced.
Our family prepared langar and our close friends prepared shabads to be sung including Dasam Bani and Raag Bani on the Taus.
When we were advised that some of our friends wouldn’t have time to sing their prepared shabads, we promptly organized an outside deevan, which just added to the beauty of everything!
That is the beauty of Surrendering – you get to worry less and enjoy more!
We were graced by a spontaneous Gatka demonstration which we watched with absolute awe.
At that moment it felt surreal, like a time capsule a few hundred years back before Anand Karaj’s became so materialized and with pure focus on the gifts of Gatka and Kirtan.
As the shastars were wielded we were reminded of the sacrifices given for our Sikhi and the warrior strength. It was so perfect and most of all I was so happy my family had a chance to see such a Gursikh wedding.
Afterwards we received many compliments but in the moment of pride Guru Sahib again saved me, and reminded me that this was all Kirpa, for none of it could have happened in only our hands.
Looking forward, we urge every couple to start asking themselves who their Anand Karaj is serving. There are many people that like to debate online about what is right and wrong – people who are too liberal and others too bitter. There is no doubt however that Sikhi is a journey going within and the Anand Karaj is a ceremony for that timeless union. Be strong against external influences and be strongest against own dual-mindedness. Without doubt, honour Gurmat above all temporary relationships as we try to be more conscious in our intentions, thoughts and actions as that is what will lead us closer to Guru.
On the day of the Anand Karaj I vividly remember holding concealer in my hands to hide my dark circles. I rarely wore makeup but I thought I might on this day. I had done Ardaas to Guru Ji daily wishing he would give me strength to wear no makeup during my Anand Karaj, something I had dreamt of since a kid. When I looked in the mirror I saw myself wearing the dastaar of Gur Gobind Singh Ji’s daughter and I wiped off the concealer; I did not want to hide from the Guru!
We would really like to share our journey and encourage other couples to have genuine Anand Karaj ceremony’s.