It never fails. There is that magical moment during the wedding ceremony when the transformation begins. The couple is ready, seated before the Siri Guru Granth Sahib, the presiding Minister has spoken the words appropriate to bring the couple into the state ready to be fully present in this transformative moment.
The sangat is present as witnesses to this most sacred yoga, most sacred merger: the union of masculine and feminine, of male and female, of man and woman, with the Guru guiding them in their higher consciousness. It is so sweet, so powerful, so ecstatic; then it happens: Guru Ram Das takes over. It is subtle, but so deep and powerful.
It always makes me smile, and concede the space to my Guru, my Beloved Guru Ram Das. After all, it is HIS ceremony, HIS words, HIS process, HIS sweet and merciful step-by-step instruction on HOW to do merger. Any merger, really, and preparation for the BIG merger! Here in this beautiful, very real, very human, and very divine ceremony: the Lavan of Guru Ram Das.
I am blessed to perform quite a lot of marriages. And once again I was privileged to serve as the presiding minister for a wedding up at Ram Das Puri. Wow. Take the process I describe above and multiply it many times, and you have the experience of performing a ceremony up at Ram Das Puri, Guru Ram Das’ place, after all. It is so sublime and so beautiful, with all the elements present: on this sacred earth, with the blue sky, the lovely wind, the presence of the worldwide sangat, in the Court of the Guru.
Tips for Ministers
Some tips for a Minister performing the ceremony:
If you are a Minister preparing to perform this sacred ceremony, let Guru Ram Das’ Lavan work, and serve this. Help to create a relaxed, yet reverent frequency, to match the task at hand.
More often than not, you will have non-Sikh family members who don’t have a clue what is about to take place. Help them to feel part of it. Welcome them in. It is best to set up a meeting with the key family members and the couple to answer their questions, decide how to be involved. For instance, walking their son or daughter into the Gurdwara, being part of the Pala (shawl) ceremony.
One thing I do now in ceremonies is welcome all the parents to be part of the Pala ceremony, reverentially blessing the bride and groom. It is very touching and goes a long way in letting them feel part of it all.
It is a good idea to appoint a savvy sevadar to help the non-Sikh guests during the ceremony. If chairs are absolutely needed for an elderly or infirm family member, make sure they are put in a place where they won’t block the view of the sangat. Use this only for those who really need it. It is not an “option,” only a compassion.
Explaining the Lavan
Any explanations of the Lavan should be done before the Lavan begins with Keeta Lori-ai Kam. Keep your words to a minimum after this point, bow in your consciousness, and let Guru Ram Das’ magic prevail. Each round: Read from Siri Guru Granth Sahib, English Translation, then ragis sing that round, and make their way around the Guru, then bow.
Try to work with the bride and groom to create some constraint over who goes up and stands around the Guru while they walk. These friends and family are not meant to be a distraction to the couple, only a support. And it doesn’t have to be half the sangat!
The Lavan of Guru Ram Das completes with Anand Sahib and Veeha Hoa Mere Babula sung directly after the fourth round, and Ardas recited for the couple. This can be tricky when the ceremony takes place before a regularly scheduled Gurdwara program and will continue on and on. If the couple is planning to stay through the whole thing, then it is a moot point.
If the ceremony itself is going to include some kirtan and words afterward, then the Ardas for the couple can be worked into the regular program Ardas. Without being fanatic, it is good to work out how this is going to proceed. It is entirely appropriate for the Anand Sahib and Ardas to take place, and then the kirtan program proceeds. Then the couple and family are free to leave and know that the ceremony has been completed.
Siri Sardarni Dr. Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa is the Bhai Sahiba or Chief Religious Minister of Sikh Dharma. Mukhia Sardarni Sahiba Guru Raj Kaur Khalsa answers on behalf of Bibiji and the Office of the Bhai Sahiba. Please feel free to submit your dharmic questions to [email protected].
THE BHAI SAHIBA
Internationally renowned teacher, author, and spiritual leader, Bhai Sahiba Bibiji Inderjit Kaur Khalsa is the beloved wife of the Siri Singh Sahib of Sikh Dharma. She has published a book called Mantra: Personal Guidance Through the Power of the Word.