According to the Sikh teachings, Anand Karaj (Punjabi: ਅਨੰਦ ਕਾਰਜ, anand kāraj) means "Blissful Deed" or "Joyful Deed". It was introduced by Guru Amar Das Ji. The four Lavan were composed by his successor, Guru Ram Das Ji. It was originally legalised in India through the passage of the Anand Marriage Act 1909 but is now governed by the Sikh Reht Maryada (Sikh code of conduct and conventions) that was issued by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC).
The following are other important points that must be adhered to by the Sikh couple and their families:
- Marriage is a partnership of equals.
- No consideration is to be given to Caste, Social Status, Race or lineage.
- No Dowry is allowed.
- No day is holier than other, hence no superstitions are to be observed in fixing the date of the wedding.
- The religious ceremony must take place in a Gurdwara or in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib.
- The burden of the cost of the wedding to be shared as equally as possible.
The Anand Karaj ceremony is joyous and festive event in which families and friends from both sides are heavily involved. Most Sikh weddings take place in the morning and are completed before noon. Following the ceremony is a langar or a formal lunch. The wedding event can last for the whole day and may spill into the next day.
Most families combine the wedding ceremony with the engagement ceremony called the "Kurmai", where the Kurmai is held just before the wedding vows or Laava. The engagement ceremony can also be held as a separate event on a different day. It is usually conducted in the Gurdwara or at the home of the Groom-to-be. It involves Ardas, Kirtan, "Sagun" (Exchange of gifts) and Langar. In the "Sagaan" ceremony, the groom is presented with a kara, kirpan, Indian sweets, fresh fruits, dried fruits and nuts. The bride-to-be's family in turn are presented with garments and sweets for the Bride-to-be.