Anand Karaj is the prescribed form of Sikh marriage, the words literally translate as ‘Blissful Union”. The Sikh marriage is a very special ceremony in which two individuals are joined in a equal partnership. It is joyous and festive event which is very family orientated and informal in it’s atmosphere. Sikh marriages are usually arranged with families acting as little more than ntroduction services. The ultimate choice is always left to the girl and boy.
In some cases the boy and girl choose each other first and then seek their parents consent and blessing. The Reht Maryada which is The Official Sikh Code of Conduct specifies that no thought should be given to the perspective spouses caste, race or lineage. As long as both the boy and girl profess the Sikh faith and no other faith they may be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony. The Reht Maryada strictly forbids any sort of dowry arrangement as marriage is not to be viewed as a business transaction. Sikhs are also discouraged from consulting horoscopes or following any other superstitions pertaining to determining a wedding date or time.
The Anand Karaj ceremony can be performed in any Gurdwara or home where Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been respectfully installed. The religious ceremony cannot be performed in a hotel or banquet hall. There are no restrictions as to what time the ceremony should start or what time it should end although they are usually performed in the morning with the religious ceremony taking no more than a few hours.