ANAND MARRIAGE ACT was passed in 1909 by the Imperial (i.e. GovernorGeneral`s) Legislative Council to establish legal “validity of the marriage ceremony common among the Sikhs called Anand.” The origins of marriage by Anand ceremony go back to early Sikhism. The practice which somewhat lapsed during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was sought to be revived as part of the religious reform initiated by the Nirankari movement and followed up especially by the Singh Sabha.

Anand marriages were readily reported in the Sikh Press towards the close of the 19th century.For instance, the Khalsa Akhbar in its issue of 6 November 1886 reported the marriage of Bhai Dalip Singh, son of Bhai Ran Smgh of village Kondi in the princely state of Patiala by Anand ceremony. The same newspaper announced on 11 December 1886 Anand nuptials of Gian Singh, son of Subahdar Major Baghel Singh, which took place at the village of Jaipura.

Again on 18 February 1888, the Khalsa Akhbar reported the marriage of the daughter of Bhai Sant Singh, president, Singh Sabha, Lahore, performed in accordance with the Sikh ritual on 14 February 1888.At Sialkot, an early Anand marriage of modern times took place on 4 June 1903 (KhalsaAkhbar.lOJuly 1903).Bhai Mohan Singh Vaid in his Diary recorded that he attended Anand Karaj performed at the village of Kairon on 7 June 1899. Presumably that was when Bhai Nihal Singh Kairon`s daughter, sister of Partap Singh Kairon, mighty latter day political leader of the Punjab, was married.

Early references to Anand marriages occur in old Sikh texts such as Rahitnama Bhai Daya Singh and Giani Gian Singh, Panth Prakash. The Anand ceremony was looked upon askance by Brahmanical priests who administered the rites in the old Hindu fashion. They started caluminating the Sikh form.Sikhs wished to have their social laws accepted and codified and a beginning was made with their marriage rites. The Anand Marriage Bill was introduced in the Imperial Legislative Council in 1908 by Tikka Ripudaman Singh of the princely state of Nabha.

The House of Nabha had always espoused simplification of wedding ceremonies and, as reported in Khalsa Dharam Pracharak, 13 July 1895, there was an order in force in Nabha state laying down that no marriage party should exceed 11 guests. The Anand Marriage Bill had been drafted by a committee of the Chief Khalsa Diwan.The Imperial Council referred the bill to a select committee. The bill received overwhelming support from the Sikh respondents.In 1909 Sundar Singh Majithia replaced Tikka Ripudaman Singh of Nabha state as a member of the Imperial Council.

Moving the bill at a meeting of the Imperial Legislative Council held at the Viceregal Lodge, Shimla, on Friday, 10 September 1909, Sundar Singh Majithia commended the effort of Tikka Ripudaman Singh who had “laboured unremittingly” in behalf of the “useful measure.” Elaborating, Sundar Singh said the ceremony called Anand was initiated by the third Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Amar Das (1479-1574), and his successor Guru Ram Das (1534-1581) was the author of the four hymns of Lavan which are included in the Guru Granth Sahib (Raga Suhi, pp. 773 74) and which are recited to solemnize the Anand ceremony.

Sardar Sundar Singh presented the report of the select committee. The bill was placed on the Statute Book on 22 October 1909.The text of the Act reads: 5.The Anand Marriage Act 1909, Act No. VII of 1909.An Act to remove doubts as to the validity of the marriage ceremony among the Sikhs called `Anand`. 1. Short title and extent : The Act may be called the Anand Marriage Act 1909. 2. Validity of Anand All marriages which Marriages : may be or may have been duly solemnized according to the Sikh marriage ceremony called `Anand` shall be and shall be deemed to have been with effect from the date of solemnization to each respectively, good and valid in law.3.

Exemption of certain marriages from Act : Nothing in this Act shall apply to (a) any marriage between persons not professing the Sikh religion or (b) any marriage which has been judicially declared to be null and void. 4. Saving of marriage solemnized according to other ceremony : Nothing in this Act shall affect the validity of any marriage duly solemnized according to any other marriage ceremony customary among the Sikhs. 5. Non-validation of marriages : Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to validate any marriage between persons who are related to each other in any degree of consanguinity, or affinity which would, according to the customary law of Sikhs, render a marriage between them illegal.

References :

1. Talwar, K.S., The Anand Marriage Act,” in The Panjab Past and Present. Patiala, October 1968
2. Bajwa, Fauja Singh, Kuka Movement. Delhi, 1965
3. Sodhi, Teja Singh, Anand Pra&as. Amritsar, 1967