Muslim Marriage Customs:

India & Pakistan

Muslim Marriage Customs: India and Pakistan A love from a man towards a woman and a love from a woman towards a man is a feeling which was created by Allah, comes from the inner soul of one's heart. Attraction to the opposite sex and marriage are two common feelings which comes naturally when one has achieve maturity physically and mentally: "...and one of his greatest power is creating for you a partner (wife) so that you will feel at ease and feel the love which was created for you both. Initially that feeling will come towards one who can think."(QS. Ar Rum: 21)

In this world, we have different types of culture depending on the race, the continent and of course the religion itself. For a Muslim community, there are many types of marriage customs but they still follow the Islamic edicts, which make the marriage legal. To celebrate the sacred event, traditional culture would be added in to make the marriage more colorful, and India and Pakistan are no exception.

Initially in the Indian subcontinent, Muslim wedding or nikah is celebrated grandly for 5 days. The wedding is celebrated at any time convenient to both parties because in Islam, they believe that everyday is a good day. The ceremony can be held either at the bride's or groom's home or at a suitable place like a hall. Like any other wedding, it too can be divided into pre-wedding, wedding and post-wedding celebrations.

When both parties have agreed on the date, cash present will be sent to the bride's father. This ceremony is called Legan Chir. On the first day and second, the family members of both parties will go to each other's house bringing mehdi paste in a plate while lighten candles, are carried by the children before arriving to the particular houses. Mehndi or Henna as it is called has a huge importance in the marriage rituals. The Manjha ceremony will take place on the third day. The bride, wearing yellow clothes and no jewelry will be seated on a small table. She will be rubbed with haldi (turmeric) given by the bridegroom's family. A married friend will chaperone the bride everywhere and at all times.

On the eve of the big day, a ceremony called the Mehndi ceremony will be held at the home of the bride. Mehndi will be decorated by a mehndiwali on the hands and feet of the bride. Sometimes the palm of the groom will also be decorated with henna. The event has a festive atmosphere to it with the women singing beautiful old folk songs. The bride will wear plain clothes on the day. According to custom, the bride is forbidden to go out from the house until the day that she is married.

Muslim Marriage Customs: India and Pakistan The Wedding Day
It is usually on day four that the Nikaah or wedding ceremony will take its course. A band of musicians will strike up some traditional notes to inform everyone of the bridegroom's arrival with a wedding procession or barat. A barat usually consist of family members and close friends of the bridegroom. Upon the arrival, the groom will share a drink of sherbet with the bride's brother while the bride's sisters will playfully slap the guests with batons made of flowers. The nikaah ceremony will be chaired by a qazi or law officer. On the groom's side, he will have two witnesses (Gawah) which will be appointed by the qazi. The bride's father will act as the trustee (Wali) in the ceremony.

Muslim Marriage Customs: India and Pakistan For the conservative Muslim communities, during the Nikaah, the bride and the groom will be seated separately in Zenana (for woman) and Mardaana (for men). The Maulvi (Islamic teacher) reads selected verses from the Quran and the Nikaah is complete after the Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance). In the perspective of Islam, the law demands that for the marriage to be legal, they must get consent from both parties.(FATWA here)

During the Nikaah ceremony, the amount of Mehar (nuptial gift) will be decided. The groom's family must give Mehar, a sum of money to the bride. The qazi will personally ask the bride and the groom whether they agree on the marriage. When they have given their consent, the Nikaah-Nama or marriage contract that contains certain term and conditions, in accordance with the religion will be signed by the bride, the bridegroom, the Wali, the witnesses and the Qazi. It states in the contract that the girl has a right to divorce her husband if there is a case of incompatibility. After the Nikaah-Nama is signed, the Qazi delivers a sermon called Khutba where he will explain in detail the rights and duties of the spouses.

After the ceremony, a feast will be served. The Valimah is the lavish reception hosted by the groom's family after the Nikaah. After the feast, the newly-weds sit together for the first time and a Quran will be placed between them. Their heads will be covered using a shawl or dupatta while reading some prayers under the instruction of the Maulvi.

The rituals followed in Muslim Nikah are the same in any other Indian weddings. The bride's family will offer their goodbyes before she leaves for her husband's house. The bride's father advices her husband to care and love his daughter. When the couple arrives at the groom's house, the groom's mother holds the Quran above the head of her daughter-in-law as she enters her new home for the first time. The Chauthi is the fourth day after the wedding. It is a must that the bride visits her parents on this day where she receives a joyous welcome.

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