The laava (singular laav) are the four Shabads (sacred hymns) of the Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding ceremony). They form the central part of the marriage ceremony. The "four rounds" ("char phaara") as they are sometimes called form central part of this auspicious occasion. The four Shabads are from the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy scriptures and appear on pages 773 to 774 of the total of 1430 page of the holy Granth.
Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru tells us on page 788 of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib about the meaning of marriage to a Sikh couple – Effectively, the Guru defines a Sikh marriage in these 2 lines: "They are not said to be husband and wife who merely sit together. Rather they alone are called husband and wife, who have one soul in two bodies." Thus the partnership of marriage is given a special meaning - a new dimension. For a union of marriage to be successful, the two personalities have to merge into one – a spiritual bonding through understanding and love.
The Guru through the four laava give the Sikh couple further spiritual guidance for their life together. The Guru tell the Sikhs of the four golden rules of married life. These rules start very clearly to define the path to be treaded together in this sacred union. The Shabads inform us how the couple as a team have to first begin by following the path of righteousness and sinless-ness. The primary golden rule of "blissful union" is to be truthful and sinless in our conduct first to each other and then to others. The rest of the Laav then tells us how one can be truthful and keep away from falsehood. You can only tread the path of Dharm and righteousness if you remember God through His Name or Naam – Recite His name and you will keep to the straight and narrow and temptation will diminish.
In the second round, the Guru tells us to remove egotism (Humai) from within our minds. Remove the "I" from your mind and concentrate on "we" and "us". Then with fear of the Lord, remember Him and sing His praises. If you do this together, then the sound of God ("anhad shabad") will reverberate within the both of you in resonance. In the third round, the Guru tell us that your minds will be filled with divine love and in the company of the holy congregation Sangat, your destiny will be revealed before you. Finally, as Gurmukhs, the couple will find divine peace and you will have arrived to your final destination, with the Lord; He will dominate your mind and your domain; Naam with flow in your heart; you will have realised your destiny and obtain the ultimate "union of bliss" – absolute Anand; you will "have found the Eternal Lord God".
The Four Rounds
The main part of the Anand Karaj (Sikh Marriage Ceremony) is the reading and then the singing of each laav in turn. When the Laav is sung, the couple as a pair joint by a piece of cloth circle the SGGS. This has relevance to the occasion and should not be considered a ritual without meaning. When the couple circle the SGGS each time they are making a commitment to God with the Guru and the Sangat as their spiritual witness and support. And as one circles the Sri Guru Granth Sahib you are reminded that the Guru should be the center of your life, from which springs your spiritual leadership and understanding that you require for your soul's long journey across this 'world ocean'. The Sri Guru Granth Sahib is the spiritual center and the Sadh Sangat is your worldly (temporal) witness and support. The Guru is your support within and the Sangat your support outside.
The four nuptial rounds were written by Guru Ram Das for his own wedding. They explain the journey of the souls toward the Almighty. In them he tells us of the duties that a person undertaking a life of marriage should perform. In the first round, the Guru asks the partners to:
Summary First Round
commit to righteousness. Always be Truthful and tread the path of Dharma
renounce sinful actions. Never consider treading on the path of falsehood and deception.
Remember, mediate and embrace God and recite His Naam.
Only by good fortune, is real peace obtained and Lord seems sweet to the mind.
Worship the one Waheguru and all your sins will vanish.
With these principles on-board, together you begin the first stage of marriage.
Summary Second Round
In the second round, the Guru asks the partners to advance further towards meeting the True Guru - God, the spiritual destiny of all humans:
The Guru leads you to meet the True Guru, the Primal Being - the enlightener
Only have fear of fearless God and no one else, live in hukam;
And thus all the filth of your own ego will disappear from your mind.
with humility before the Lord, Sing His praises and feel His presence within you both.
Perpetual bliss will gather and you will feel on top of the world;
You will see God everywhere, deep within you and outside; always sing of Him in joy;
In the second round, the divine music (Anhad-Shabad) will resound.
Summary Third Round
In the third round, the Guru says that the partner's minds are filled with "Divine Love":
There is great anticipation and expectation in the minds of these cosmic travellers;
in the company of saintly people this mind is calmed down and settled.
meeting the Sadh Sangat (Holy Congregation), which is only obtained by good fortune;
Sahaj path is found. The Guru instructs that- Together speak the Word of the Lord's holy bani,
Recite Gurbani and sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord. The Naam will vibrates and resounds within your hearts;
In this state of bliss your unique destiny will be realized as inscribed "upon your foreheads".
and knowing your future destiny; divine love will be be awakened within you.
Summary Fourth Round
In the final round, the Guru says that following these instructions, the partner's minds become peaceful and they will have found the Lord:
The Lord is found and calmness (sahaj) engulf your minds; deep peace dwells within.
God's Will seems sweet to these Gurmukhs - they will be perfectly happy and satisfied with their lives.
You will lovingly focus your consciousness on the Lord, day and night
All your desires will be fulfilled; all your mind's desires will have born fruits - complete contentment will be achieved.
The Souls together will blend together and experience Waheguru and only the true Naam will occupy their hearts and minds.
ਸੂਹੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੪ ॥
soohee mehlaa 4. Soohee, Fourth Mehl:
ਹਰਿ ਪਹਿਲੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਪਰਵਿਰਤੀ ਕਰਮ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥
har pahilarhee laav parvirtee karam drirh-aa-i-aa bal raam jee-o.
In the first round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord sets out His Instructions for performing the daily duties of married life.
ਬਾਣੀ ਬ੍ਰਹਮਾ ਵੇਦੁ ਧਰਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਹੁ ਪਾਪ ਤਜਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥
banee barahmaa vayd Dharam darirhHu paap tajaa-i-aa bal raam jee-o.
Instead of the hymns of the Vedas to Brahma, embrace the righteous conduct of Dharma, and renounce sinful actions.
ਧਰਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਹੁ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਧਿਆਵਹੁ ਸਿਮ੍ਰਿਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਦ੍ਰਿੜਾਇਆ ॥
Dharam darirhHu har naam Dhi-aavahu simrit naam drirh-aa-i-aa.
Meditate on the Lord's Name; embrace and enshrine the contemplative remembrance of the Naam.
ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਪੂਰਾ ਆਰਾਧਹੁ ਸਭਿ ਕਿਲਵਿਖ ਪਾਪ ਗਵਾਇਆ ॥
satgur gur pooraa aaraaDhahu sabh kilvikh paap gavaa-i-aa.
Worship and adore the Guru, the Perfect True Guru, and all your sins shall be dispelled.
ਸਹਜ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਹੋਆ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਮਨਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਇਆ ॥
sahj anand ho-aa vadbhaagee man har har meethaa laa-i-aa.
By great good fortune, celestial bliss is attained, and the Lord, Har, Har, seems sweet to the mind.
ਜਨੁ ਕਹੈ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਲਾਵ ਪਹਿਲੀ ਆਰੰਭੁ ਕਾਜੁ ਰਚਾਇਆ ॥੧॥
jan kahai naanak laav pahilee aarambh kaaj rachaa-i-aa. ((1))
Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the first round of the marriage ceremony, the marriage ceremony has begun. ((1))
ਹਰਿ ਦੂਜੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਮਿਲਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥
har doojrhee laav satgur purakh milaa-i-aa bal raam jee-o.
In the second round of the marriage ceremony, the Lord leads you to meet the True Guru, the Primal Being.
ਨਿਰਭਉ ਭੈ ਮਨੁ ਹੋਇ ਹਉਮੈ ਮੈਲੁ ਗਵਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥
nirbha-o bhai man ho-ay ha-umai mail gavaa-i-aa bal raam jee-o.
With the Fear of God, the Fearless Lord in the mind, the filth of egotism is eradicated.
ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਭਉ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਵੇਖੈ ਰਾਮੁ ਹਦੂਰੇ ॥
nirmal bha-o paa-i-aa har gun gaa-i-aa har vaykhai raam hadooray.
In the Fear of God, the Immaculate Lord, sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord, and behold the Lord's Presence before you.
ਹਰਿ ਆਤਮ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਸਾਰਿਆ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਸਰਬ ਰਹਿਆ ਭਰਪੂਰੇ ॥
har aatam raam pasaari-aa su-aamee sarab rahi-aa bharpooray.
The Lord, the Supreme Soul, is the Lord and Master of the Universe; He is pervading and permeating everywhere, fully filling all spaces.
ਅੰਤਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੋ ਮਿਲਿ ਹਰਿ ਜਨ ਮੰਗਲ ਗਾਏ ॥
antar baahar har parabh ayko mil har jan mangal gaa-ay.
Deep within, and outside as well, there is only the One Lord God. Meeting together, the humble servants of the Lord sing the songs of joy.
ਜਨ ਨਾਨਕ ਦੂਜੀ ਲਾਵ ਚਲਾਈ ਅਨਹਦ ਸਬਦ ਵਜਾਏ ॥੨॥
jan naanak doojee laav chalaa-ee anhad sabad vajaa-ay. ((2))
Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the second round of the marriage ceremony, the unstruck sound current of the Shabad resounds. ((2))
ਹਰਿ ਤੀਜੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਮਨਿ ਚਾਉ ਭਇਆ ਬੈਰਾਗੀਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥
har teejrhee laav man chaa-o bha-i-aa bairaagee-aa bal raam jee-o.
In the third round of the marriage ceremony, the mind is filled with Divine Love.
ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾ ਹਰਿ ਮੇਲੁ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਵਡਭਾਗੀਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥
sant janaa har mayl har paa-i-aa vadbhaagee-aa bal raam jee-o.
Meeting with the humble Saints of the Lord, I have found the Lord, by great good fortune.
ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਣ ਗਾਇਆ ਮੁਖਿ ਬੋਲੀ ਹਰਿ ਬਾਣੀ ॥
nirmal har paa-i-aa har gun gaa-i-aa mukh bolee har banee.
I have found the Immaculate Lord, and I sing the Glorious Praises of the Lord. I speak the Word of the Lord's Bani.
ਸੰਤ ਜਨਾ ਵਡਭਾਗੀ ਪਾਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਕਥੀਐ ਅਕਥ ਕਹਾਣੀ ॥
sant janaa vadbhaagee paa-i-aa har kathee-ai akath kahaanee.
By great good fortune, I have found the humble Saints, and I speak the Unspoken Speech of the Lord.
ਹਿਰਦੈ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਧੁਨਿ ਉਪਜੀ ਹਰਿ ਜਪੀਐ ਮਸਤਕਿ ਭਾਗੁ ਜੀਉ ॥
hirdai har har har Dhun upjee har japee-ai mastak bhaag jee-o.
The Name of the Lord, Har, Har, Har, vibrates and resounds within my heart; meditating on the Lord, I have realized the destiny inscribed upon my forehead.
ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੇ ਤੀਜੀ ਲਾਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਉਪਜੈ ਮਨਿ ਬੈਰਾਗੁ ਜੀਉ ॥੩॥
jan naanak bolay teejee laavai har upjai man bairaag jee-o. ((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))
Fourth and Final Laav
ਹਰਿ ਚਉਥੜੀ ਲਾਵ ਮਨਿ ਸਹਜੁ ਭਇਆ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥
har cha-utharhee laav man sahj bha-i-aa har paa-i-aa bal raam jee-o.
In the fourth round of the marriage ceremony, my mind has become peaceful; I have found the Lord.
ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਮਿਲਿਆ ਸੁਭਾਇ ਹਰਿ ਮਨਿ ਤਨਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਇਆ ਬਲਿ ਰਾਮ ਜੀਉ ॥
gurmukh mili-aa subhaa-ay har man tan meethaa laa-i-aa bal raam jee-o.
As Gurmukh, I have met Him, with intuitive ease; the Lord seems so sweet to my mind and body.
ਹਰਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਇਆ ਮੇਰੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਾਇਆ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਹਰਿ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਈ ॥
har meethaa laa-i-aa mayray parabh bhaa-i-aa an-din har liv laa-ee.
The Lord seems so sweet; I am pleasing to my God. Night and day, I lovingly focus my consciousness on the Lord.
ਮਨ ਚਿੰਦਿਆ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਇਆ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮਿ ਵਜੀ ਵਾਧਾਈ ॥
man chindi-aa fal paa-i-aa su-aamee har naam vajee vaaDhaa-ee.
I have obtained my Lord and Master, the fruit of my mind's desires. The Lord's Name resounds and resonates.
ਹਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਭਿ ਠਾਕੁਰਿ ਕਾਜੁ ਰਚਾਇਆ ਧਨ ਹਿਰਦੈ ਨਾਮਿ ਵਿਗਾਸੀ ॥
har parabh thaakur kaaj rachaa-i-aa Dhan hirdai naam vigaasee.
The Lord God, my Lord and Master, blends with His bride, and her heart blossoms forth in the Naam.
ਜਨੁ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਬੋਲੇ ਚਉਥੀ ਲਾਵੈ ਹਰਿ ਪਾਇਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਅਵਿਨਾਸੀ ॥੪॥੨॥
jan naanak bolay cha-uthee laavai har paa-i-aa parabh avinaasee. ((4)(2))
Servant Nanak proclaims that, in this, the fourth round of the marriage ceremony, we have found the Eternal Lord God. ((4)(2)