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Indian Muslim Wedding
Indian Muslim wedding is seen to usually follow the path that is prevalent in the Middle Eastern Islamic countries. Traditionally, such ceremonies extend over 3 days, which includes pre-wedding arrangements, wedding ceremony and some functions held after the wedding is over. Role of friends and relatives is seen crucial in Muslim weddings as their presence is vital to sanctify the marriage. Witnesses are important when these marriages are looked at from the legal point of view. Besides these, the occasion is one of celebrations and special dishes.
Pre-Wedding Rituals in Indian Muslim Wedding
Before the marriage rituals start in the house of the groom and bride, the maulvi or the religious head seeks blessings for the would-be-couple and permission for carrying out the Nikaah. This is held in the presence of the fathers of the bride and the groom. Recitations from the Holy Quran are done for the purpose.
This is the first step for the marriage ceremony. During this occasion, the mother of the groom and other senior members of his family, visit the bride’s house. They carry various sweets, dates, incense and a gold or silver coin wrapped in silk cloth. This coin is tied to the arm of the future bride, marking her as the future daughter-in-law. On this day, the date of engagement can also be fixed. On the date of engagement, rings may be exchanged between the girl and the boy, where the two families also congregate to enjoy some specially prepared dishes.
In the mehendi ceremony, which is held in the home of the bride, the to-be-bride is applied with mehendi preparations on her hands and feet. Prior to this, she is anointed in turmeric paste to add glow to her complexion. This is held a day or two prior to the actual Nikaah or marriage ceremony. Traditional singing and sometimes dances are held in the house, with the arrival of various relatives, friends and neighbours. With the mehendi ceremony having started, the bride doesn’t go out of the house.
Mahr or Baraat
Ceremonial travel of the groom, along with friends and relatives is known as Baraat. On reaching the venue of marriage or to the bride’s house, the groom drinks sherbet or juice and is welcomed by the cousins and bride’s parents.
Indian Muslim Wedding Rituals Proper
Nikaah is the Islamic term for the marriage ceremony and constitutes the most important part of the entire process. This occasion is presided by the Muslim priest or religious head, also known as the Qazi or Maulvi. He reads verses from the Holy Quran. Close family members and relatives are present in the occasion. Men and women are seated separately according to orthodox traditions. Walis or the fathers of the bride and groom have an important role in this ritual. Then, the verses are recited and the Ijab-e-Qubul is readout. This has to be agreed upon by the boy and the girl, so as to make the marriage legal. Elder members of the family agree upon a certain amount to be given to the bride’s family which is known as the nuptial gift or Mehar.
A document is to be registered about the Nikaah which is also a marriage contract. It is signed by the maulvi, the walis, bride and groom for complete formalities to be over. This Nikahnamma is supposed to carry the contracts of marriage as per terms and conditions.
After the blessings sought by the groom from the family members of the bride, there is the ritual of dinner. This is done in a lavish manner depending on the capacity of the bride’s family. Though the women and men dine in separate places, the bride and groom eat together for the first time in the Indian Muslim wedding. When the bride and groom are sitting together, their heads are covered by duppatta and they are able to see each other through a thin cloth separation, while the maulvi recites verses.
As is found in most of the weddings in India, the Indian Muslim wedding also has a few post wedding rituals.
The bride going away from her house to that of the groom’s house is called as Rukshat which usually turns into a very tearful and sad affair as the girl goes away from her family. Father of the bride gives the hand of his daughter to the groom and requests to take good care of the daughter.
In the house of the groom, the bride is welcomed by his mother by holding the Quran over her head.
On the fourth day of the wedding, the bride goes to her home and is welcomed.
Reception party hosted by the groom’s family on the fifth day is something that is one of the primary attractions of the entire marriage ceremony. It is held after the Nikaah is over. In this reception party, there is a joyous environment where members of both the families and relatives and friends are gathered over sumptuous meal.
Even though the basic traditions of Indian Muslim wedding are the same in all the regions of the country, depending on the states, there are small variations. It may be in the way the groom and bride are dressed, the exchange of gifts and the dinner menus.