Muslim matrimony lay emphasis on union of two souls and is known as Nikaah in Urdu. Muslim marriages may not be extravagant but are simple and beautiful.
The rituals of Muslim weddings vary greatly from Hindu weddings. The ceremonies of an Islamic marriage are:
PRE WEDDING RITUALS
Istikhara: It is the inaugural ceremony of the wedding that seeks consent from Allah to perform the marriage of Muslim bride and Muslim groom.
Imam-Zamin Ceremony: After Istikhara, the grooms mother ties Imam-Zamin, the silver or gold coin enveloped in silken cloth, on the brides hand.
Mangni: The families of bride and groom visit each others places with sweets and fruits. The couple has now started exchanging rings too.
Manjha Ceremony: The bride wears yellow clothes and turmeric paste is applied on her body. She is not allowed to leave the house after this.
Mehndi Ceremony: Henna is applied on the brides palms and feet on the eve of the wedding day while the ladies sing traditional songs adding to the festivities.
Welcoming the Baraat:
Like in all weddings, the groom arrives the venue with his baraat and a band of musicians who play traditional songs. The groom then takes a glass of sherbet (sweet drink) with brother of the bride while her cousins play pranks on the guests from the grooms side in the wedding.
The Wedding or The Nikaah:
The actual wedding ceremony may take place at the brides or grooms house or some other convenient place. The ceremony begins with two Maulavis (priests) from both the parties reading verses from Quran. Traditionally, the males and females are made to sit separately in Mardaana and Zenana respectively.
Meher, the nuptial gift is the money given to the brides family by the grooms for giving their daughter. The amount is then decided by mutual consent between the families.
After the amount of Meher is settled, first the bride and then the groom is asked three times if they accept each other as husband and wife. The Nikaah is complete after the Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance of both the bride and the groom).
Nikahnama, the wedding certificate is signed by the couple when both give their consent. It must be signed by the bride, bridegroom and Walis (fathers of the bride and groom) and solemnized by the Qazi to make the marriage legal in Islamic law.
Khutba, a sermon consisting of verses from Quran, explaining the rights and duties of the spouses is then delivered by the Qazi.
Dinner and Prayers:
The groom is blessed by the older women and offers them his salaam. Other guests shower wishes of long lived happiness and togetherness the couple. Dinners are generally lavish but again males and females dine separately.
After the dinner, the Muslim couple is made to sit together for the first time to see each other. The Holy Quran and a mirror is then placed between the newly weds through which they are allowed to look at each other, surrounded by recitation of prayers by the priest. This ceremony is called Aarsi Mushaf.
POST WEDDING RITUALS
Rukhsat or Farewell: The bride bids farewell to her family before leaving for her husbands home. Her father asks the groom to take good care of her.
Welcoming the Bride: As the bride enters her new home, the grooms mother welcomes her by holding the Holy Quran above her (brides) head.
Chauthi Ceremony: It is the fourth day of the marriage on which the couple visits the parental home of the bride and receives a joyous welcome.
Valimah or Reception: This is the lavish reception hosted by the groom’s family after Nikaah. It brings together the two families, their relatives, well-wishers and friends who celebrate the occasion together.
Muslim weddings can be performed at any time convenient to families of both the Muslim bride and groom. They do not believe in the notion of auspicious time.
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