Wedding Special : Decoding Sikh Sacred Ceremony – Lavan

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We’ve all been attending Sikh weddings all our lives and have even cried while the Lavan take place (pta ni yaar vyah kise da vi hovey rona aa hee janda lavan time), maybe because the spiritual high that one gets during Lavan is too much to handle and one ends up in tears.

Lavan – The word itself refers to nuptial rounds made during the Sikh wedding ceremony. It basically signifies merger or as one may call it spiritual union.

In Sikh weddings, the bride and groom are bound to take four nuptial rounds (Lavan), in contrary to the saat phere in Hindu weddings, for the couple to be unified as man and wife and to be submerged in the ultimate power – God!

Each round is called Laav and Lavan is plural for the four matrimonial verses together.

For those who don’t know, Lavan were written by Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Raam Das Ji, on the auspicious occasion of his own marriage to Bibi Bhani Ji.

Gurudwara Sahib granthis read the Lavan from Dhan Dhan Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji during the Anand Karaj marriage ceremony. The groom wears a stole or dupatta around his neck which is handed over to the bride by her father, during the palla ceremony. The duo is bound to take special care of this piece of cloth which is considered to be their connect while walking around Guru Granth Sahib Ji during Lavan.

lavan

As the Ragis start singing the Lavan, the bride and groom bow in front of the holy scripture and begin their sacred journey together. While walking, the bride follows the groom and after completion of each laav, the bride and groom bow again to Guru Sahib and sit till the next Laav is sung.

The verses of the Lavan are from the scripture of Guru Granth Sahib. The Gurmukhi words from Guru Granth Sahib Ji are spelled out phonetically here and appear above an English interpretation of their meaning. The English  interpretation of the four Gurmukhi Laav are our own. (Please excuse if something isn’t up to the mark)

Significance of the First Laav:

The first verse of the nuptial round hymn asserts that marriage is encouraged as the best state of life for a Sikh.

Together the bridal couple bow in front of Guru Granth Sahib.

“Har peh-larr-ee laav par-vir-tee karam drirr-aa-i-aa bal raam jeeo||
In the first round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord sets out His Instructions for performing the daily duties of married life.
Baanee breh-maa ved dharam drirr-hu paap tajaa-i-aa bal raam jeeo||
Rather than reciting hymns of the Vedic Brahman, embrace the righteous conduct and renounce sinful actions.
Dharam drirr-ahu har naam dhi-aav-hu simrit naam drirr-aa-i-aa||
Meditate on the Lord’s Name; embrace and enshrine the contemplative remembrance of the Naam.
Satigur gur pooraa aa-raadh-hu sabh kilvikh paap gavaa-i-aa||
Worship and adore the Guru, the Perfect True Guru, and all your sins shall be dispelled.
Sehaj anand hoaa vadd-bhaa-gee man har har mee-thaa laa-i-aa||
By great good fortune, celestial bliss is attained, and the Lord seems sweet to the mind.
Jan kehai naanak laav peh-lee aa-ranbh kaaj rachaa-i-aa||1||
Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the first round of the marriage ceremony, the marriage ceremony has begun. ||1||

Significance of the Second Laav:

The second verse of the nuptial round hymn conveys the awakening feelings of love a bride has when leaving her former life, and beginning a new life in partnership with her husband.

Har dooj-rree laav satigur purakh milaa-i-aa bal raam jeeo||
In the second round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord leads one to meet the True Guru, the Primal Being. A Granthi reads each matrimonial hymn aloud from Guru Granth Sahib.
Nirbho bhai man hoe houmai mail gavaa-i-aa bal raam jeeo||
Fearing God, the mind becomes fear free and the filth of egotism is eradicated.
Nirmal bho paa-i-aa har gun gaa-i-aa har vekhai raam hadoo-rae||
In fear of the Immaculate Lord, sing the glorious praises of the Lord thereby beholding his presence.
Har aatam raam pasaar-i-aa su-aa-mee sarab reh-i-aa bhar-poo-rae||
The Lord, the Supreme Soul and master of the universe is pervading and permeating everywhere, fully filling all places and spaces.
Antar baahar har prabh eko mil har jan mangal gaa-ae||
Within or without there is only one Lord God, meeting together the humble servants of the Lord sing the songs of joy.
Jan naanak doo-jee laav cha-laa-ee anhad sabad vajaa-ae||2||
Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the second round of the marriage ceremony, the divine unstruck sound resounds. ||2||

Significance of the Third Laav:

The third nuptial round hymn declares the bride’s detachment from the world and outside influences, while becoming more deeply devoted to her husband wishing only to live for him. Ragis sing each verse of the marriage song as bride and groom joined by the palla, walk around the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

Har tee-jarr-ee laav man chaao bha-i-aa bai-raag-ee-aa bal raam jeeo ||
In the third round of the marriage ceremony, the mind is filled with divine love.
Sant janaa har mel har paa-i-aa vadd-bhaa-gee-aa bal raam jeeo||
Meeting with the humble saints of the Lord, by great good fortune God is found.
Nirmal har paa-i-aa har gun gaa-i-aa mukh bo-lee har baa-nee||
The Immaculate Lord is found by singing the glorious praises of God, by uttering the word of God.
Sant janaa vadd-bhaa-gee paa-i-aa har ka-thee-ai akath kehaanee||
The humble Saints, by great good fortune attain God when describing his indescribable description.
Hir-dai har har har dhun oup-jee har japee-ai mastak bhaag jeeo||
The Name of the Lord resounds within the heart while contemplating God, when one realizes the destiny inscribed on their brow.
Jan naanak bo-lae teejee laavai har oup-jai man bai-raag jeeo||3||
Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the third round of the marriage ceremony, the mind is filled with divine love for the Lord. ||3||

Significance of the Fourth Laav:

The fourth verse of the nuptial round hymn describes a spiritual union of love and devotion where no feeling of separation is possible, imparting perfect joy, and contentment. Upon completion of the fourth round, the bride and groom are considered to be man and wife.

Har chou-tha-rree laav man sehaj bha-i-aa har paa-i-aa bal raam jeeo||
In the fourth round of the marriage ceremony, the mind becomes peaceful having found the Lord.
Gurmukh mil-i-aa su-bhaa-e har man tan mee-thaa laa-i-aa bal raam jeeo||
The Guru’s disciple meets the Lord with intuitive ease when surrendering sweetly the mind soul and body.
Har mee-thaa laa-i-aa mere prabh bhaa-i-aa andin har liv laa-ee||
The Lord seems sweet to the one possessed by God who is lovingly attuned night and day on the Lord ever.
Man chind-i-aa fal paa-i-aa su-aamee har naam vajee vaa-dhaa-ee||
The heart’s mind becomes fruitful and attains its desire when the Lord’s name resoundingly resonates within.
Har prabh thaakur kaaj rachaa-i-aa dhan hir-dhai naam vi-gaa-see||
The Lord God Master blends with the bride whose heart blossoms in the illumination of his name forthwith.
Jan naanak bolae chou-thee laa-vai har paa-i-aa prabh avin-aa-see||4||2||
Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the fourth round of the marriage ceremony the eternal Lord God is attained.” ||4||2|| SGGS||773

May you be blessed always!

Waheguru

Display Picture Courtesy : Eternity Films & Photography

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