:: Pre Wedding
The prospective bride and groom exchange rings during the mangni or engagement ceremony. The bride-to-be wears an outfit gifted to her by her future in-laws. A convenient date for the wedding or the Nikaah is fixed after the mangni.
The Mehndi (henna) ceremony is held at the home of the bride-to-be on the eve of the wedding ceremony or a couple of days before it.
The female relatives of the girl anoint her with turmeric paste. A relative or a mehndiwali (henna artist) applies mehndi on the hands and feet of the bride-to-be, in thin artistic patterns. The mehndi is traditionally kept overnight to obtain a dark hue.
The event has a festive feel to it with the women singing traditional songs.
The groom arrives at the wedding venue with his baraat (wedding procession). A band of musicians strikes up some traditional notes to announce their arrival.
The groom shares a drink of sherbet with the bride’s brother. The bride’s sisters play pranks and slap the guests playfully with batons made of flowers.
The Nikaah or wedding ceremony can be conducted at the home of the bride or the groom, or at any other convenient venue. A Maulvi (priest) conducts the ceremony in the presence of close family members and relatives. The ‘Walis’ (the father of the bride and of the groom) play an important role in the ceremony. The Maulvi reads selected verses from the Quran. The Nikaah is complete after the Ijab-e-Qubul. (proposal and acceptance). Usually, the boy’s side proposes and the girl’s side conveys her assent. The mutual consent of the bride and groom is of great importance for the marriage to be legal. Neither of them must be forced to enter into the marital contract. It is on the day of the Nikaah that the elder members of the two families decide the amount of Mehar (nuptial gift that is a compulsory amount of money to be given by the groom’s family to the bride’s.)
The Nikaahnaama is a document in which the marriage contract is registered. It contains a set of terms and conditions that must be respected by both the parties. It also gives the bride the right to divorce her husband. For the contract to be legal, it must be signed by the bridegroom, the bride, the Walis, and the Maulvi.
Blessing the groom
The groom receives blessings from the older women and offers them his salaam. The guests pray for the newly-weds.
:: Post Wedding
The bride’s family bids her a tearful farewell before she departs for her husband’s house. The bride’s father gives her hand to her husband and tells him to protect and take good care of her.
Welcoming the bride
The groom’s mother holds the Quran above the head of her new daughter-in-law as she enters her new home for the first time after the wedding.
The Valimah is the lavish reception that the groom’s family hosts after the Nikaah. It is a joyous occasion that brings together the two families, their relatives and other well-wishers.