Muslim Weddings

Muslim Weddings

Muslim weddings are surrounded by a host of customs, traditions and eventful festivities. The preparations traditionally last for two to three weeks, however it is not unusual for the celebrations to go on for much longer.

Traditionally, the parents through a "formal introduction" arrange the marriage. The parents of both parties may meet several times before any commitment is made; this usually includes the boy and girl meeting in a family setting.

It is important to point out, movement away from this tradition has become apparent.

Before the Wedding

"Milad" an Islamic ceremony that many still perform as a wedding custom. It involves friends, families and close relatives reciting Islamic blessings, wishing the bride and bridegroom well. It usually takes place at the brides to be house.

"Mayouni" which takes place a week before the wedding. The bride wears yellow clothes and avoids leaving the house for a week before her wedding, as it as seen as bad luck. During this week the bride should reflect on her life before marriage, and the life she will lead after her special day. "Uppton" (fragrance scented cream made of flowers and herbs) is rubbed over the brides skin, leaving her skin soft, exfoliated and freshly fragranced.

"Dholki" takes place during the nights leading up to the wedding. It involves playing the traditional Indian drum the "dhol" and singing traditional wedding songs. The dhol originated in India and is used extensively during weddings and special occasions.

"Rasm~e~Mehndi" is usually the most fun of all the wedding customs. The "rasm" is the traditional part of the event and the "mehndi" is where the bride's palms and feet are covered with patterns of henna.

The mehndi also involves the singing and dancing competition between the groom and brides side.

The bride (as well as women attending the mehndi) usually wears a yellow or green "shalwar kameez" and traditionally she wears no make up. The groom also usually wears the traditional "shalwar kameez" however this is not always necessary.

The "rasm" (traditional custom) is not always performed, but involves the bride/groom sitting under a veil (known as the "dupata"), which is held above their head by close relatives. The actual ceremonies performed at the rasm include close friends and relatives rubbing mehndi (henna) onto a "paan" leaf, which the bride/groom holds. Rubbing oil in the hair of the bride/groom, feeding them "ludo" (traditional, yellow Indian sweet) and circling money above their head.

The mehndi is where the bride's feet and hands are beautifully decorated with henna. The mehndi also involves a lot of dancing, singing and eating. There are many variations of this event - depending on the family. The mehndi could be a huge occasion, held in a hall, with a guest list, private catering and DJs. Or it could be a simple event held in the girls/boys house.

Once the bride is married, she will live with the groom and possibly his family. Because of this, the sisters of the bride traditionally perform "tricks" on the groom, resulting in him giving them money. The customs include hiding his shoes, holding his little finger (until he relents) and feeding him a large glass of milk (which he has to finish in one go) demanding money at the same time.

The Wedding

Traditionally, the bride and her family pay for the wedding, whilst the valima (see below) is paid for by the groom and his family. However, recent years have shown a collaboration of both events into one day, resulting in the costs being divided between both sides.

The bride's parent's pay for the groom's outfit on the wedding day, this favour is returned to the bride on the valima day, where the grooms side pay (and choose) her outfit.

  

On the wedding day, the bride traditionally wears red and gold, however this is not always the case and many brides nowadays wear colours ranging from purple to ivory. It is important to note that a Muslim wedding does not serve alcohol and women are requested to dress and act modestly.

"Sehra Bandhi" this is a tradition involving the groom on the day of his wedding day. His sisters/female cousins will tie flowers on the groom before he leaves the house. In return he either buys them a gift or gives them money.

"Barat" is when the groom and his family arrive. The bride's family, who wait for them and throw flowers and confetti, greets them The "Nikkah" is the actual Islamic ceremony performed by an "Imam" (priest) binding the two individuals together for life. The bride and groom are not together during the ceremony; they are kept in separate areas, each with two witnesses (one who must know the bride/groom). They are asked three times whether they take the "named person" as they're lawfully married husband/wife. They must answer "kabul hai" three times. The couple then exchange rings.

The "Arsi mousaf" is the tradition performed straight after the nikkah - the couple look at each other's reflections using mirrors. However, this tradition is no longer performed very much.

The "Rukhsati" is the last tradition performed at the wedding, it is performed when the couple are leaving. The holy Quran (book of Islam) is carried above the couple's head, while they are walking towards the exit.

It is again important to point out that Muslim weddings are seen as auspicious occasions, guests are required to act and behave respectfully, avoid open or public displays of affection.

When greeting someone unfamiliar from the opposite sex, avoid kissing cheeks (unless initiated by the other party) as this may cause offence. A handshake or nod is usually sufficient.

After the wedding

The Valima is the celebration given by the groom's family, welcoming the bride into her new family. The bride will arrive with the groom's family, as opposed to her own. The valima day is usually the day after the wedding day, and the new married couple greet and thank their guests together.
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