Sacred Rituals of an Indian Muslim Wedding

Muslim weddings are known as the Nikah in Urdu. The ceremonies and rituals related to a Muslim wedding may differ according to the region, sects and customs of the people involved. But, down-the-line every wedding has one significant purpose to it - celebrating the sacred union of two people. Let us take a look at some of the important pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding rituals of Muslim weddings.

Pre-Wedding Traditions and Rituals

The Istikhara ritual: This is the most important ritual in a Nikah. The religious heads of the Muslim community come together to pray to Allah and seek his consent and blessings to commence the wedding.

The Imam-Zamin ritual: In this ritual, the groom’s mother visits the bride’s house bearing sweets and a gold or silver coin that is wrapped inside a silk cloth. She ties this cloth around the bride’s hand.

The Mangni: Also known as the engagement ceremony, during which the boy and the girl exchange rings. Both the families also exchange gifts, fruits, dry fruits and sweets.

The Manjha ritual: During this ritual, the bride-to-be wears yellow clothes and a paste made out of haldi (turmeric) is applied on to her face and body. After the Manjha ritual, the bride-to-be is not supposed to leave her house until the wedding day.

The Mehendi: The Manjha and the Mehendi ceremonies bare close similarities to the pre-wedding rituals of a Hindu wedding. In the Mehendi ceremony, beautiful and artistic henna designs are applied on the bride’s hands and feet.

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The Sanchaq ritual: The groom’s family sends the clothes and ornaments for the bride  that she is supposed to wear during the Nikah.

Wedding Traditions and Rituals

Reception of the Barat: The bride’s family welcomes the barat (wedding party) with welcome drinks and gifts. The groom then shares a glass of sherbet (a sweetened drink) with the brother of the bride.

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The Nikah: The actual wedding ceremony is conducted in presence of the Maulvi (religious priest) and close family members from both the sides. According to traditional and religious customs, men and women sit separately. The bride is given a Mehr (a pre-decided amount of cash given to the bride) from the groom’s family. The Maulvi, recites prayers from the Quran, and asks the bride if she agrees to marry the groom with the pre-decided Mehr. This question is asked thrice. If she agrees, the same is repeated with the groom. This is known as Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance). This if followed by the signing of the Nikahnama (marriage contract) by the couple. All the elders now bless the newly married couple.

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The Arsi Mushaf Ritual: This is the time when the newly married couple gets a chance to see each other for the first time after the marriage is solemnised. A mirror along with the Holy Quran is kept between the bride and the groom. Through this mirror, the couple can see each other.

Post-Wedding Traditions and Rituals

The Rukhsat ritual: The bride bids a tearful farewell to all her family members after all the wedding rituals have taken place. On her arrival at the groom’s house, the bride is welcomed by the groom’s mother with the Holy Quran placed on her head.

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The Walimah: A grand and lavish wedding reception feast, also known as Dawat-e-walimah, is organised by the groom’s family. This is a way to welcome the new family member as well as an opportunity to make a formal announcement of the marriage to the entire community.

The Chauthi ceremony: This ceremony is basically a lunch or a dinner organised by the bride’s family when she visits her house for the first time after marriage with her husband. After the meal they are showered gifts and blessings.

Image: Faizan Patel Photography

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