1. Inital Meetings
The prospective groom and his family will always approach the bride and her relatives first at a primary meeting. The groom’s parents will propose on behalf of their son and bring sweets and gifts for their future daughter-inlaw. The bride’s parents must give their word that they honestly accept the proposal, also known as zabaan.
2. Engagement Party
The bride and groom’s families come together to throw a joint engagement party. It’s normally on a small scale, and the groom will formally ask for the bride’s hand and present her with a ring. The families will also decide on a date for the wedding and Nikkah, and the planning can officially begin.
3. Mayoon Ceremony
The Groom’s mother brings turmeric and this is applied on the bride’s skin to give it a healthy glow. The bride will usually wear a casual, salvwar kameez during the ceremony. It’s a small gathering for intimate family members, and traditionally just the ladies, to make the bride feel relaxed and pampered before her Big Day.
4. Bridal Nikkah
Away from the wedding hall, in a separate room, the bride sits with the imam (priest) for her Nikkah ceremony. The imam ensures that the bride understands the marriage contract, which is similar to a registry document. There must be at least two witnesses present at the bridal Nikkah - generally her father and another elder, sometimes her new father-in-law. These days it’s common for family and close relatives to also attend.
5. Groom's Nikkah
The Groom makes his entrance into the wedding hall. When the imam arrives and the witnesses are present, verses from the Qur’an are read and the groom must agree to the contract by declaring ‘I accept’ or ‘qubool hai’ three times.
6. Bridal Entrance
Now the couple is officially married, the bride makes her way into the hall accompanied by her immediate family. Sometimes the bride is veiled when she sits next to the groom so that he can unveil her in a ritual called Munh Dikhai.
7. D'ua Prayers
The imam leads the couple, their families and the wedding guests in prayers calling for a happy and long marriage. Everyone bows their heads to ask Allah to bless the new union with health, happiness and fertility. D’uas are also said to fortify the couple’s faith as they start their new lives together.
8. Wedding Banquet
The lunch or dinner reception is typically rich Pakistani cuisine including traditional curries, biryani and meat. Once dinner is over, a couple will also cut their cake. Depending on the religious beliefs, there may be dancing and music, but orthodox Muslims will have Nasheed, religious hymns, playing during the feast.
As the wedding winds down, the newlyweds hug and bid farewell to their guests. The Qur’an is held over the bride’s head as she walks from the stage to the exit in order to bless and protect her. This is a solemn moment for the bride’s parents as it marks the departure of their daughter from their home.
This is the final celebration, traditionally held by the groom’s side once the marriage is official. These days, both families tend to have an equal say in the style of each ceremony and may host the event together. Normally, it will be held in a lavish venue, with caterers, entertainment and décor companies booked to ensure an extravagant celebration.
A visual treat marked with endless celebrations for the union of two families
1. Kabin Nama
The family of the prospective bride and groom meet at either side’s house to discuss the idea of marriage between their children. If both families are happy and wish to go ahead with the Big Day, a Kabin Nama (marriage contract) is drawn up, detailing all that was discussed.
2. Bridal Nikkah
The bride’s family kick-start the celebrations with a chini paan (engagement party) for their daughter. Some members of the groom’s family will go along bearing gifts for the bride and everyone decides on a suitable wedding date. Then comes the Nikkah, which the bride and groom-to-be complete separately. The bride will have hers at home, attended by a maulvi (priest) and the groom’s side will send gold, clothing and other expensive gifts. Grooms can have their Nikkah before the wedding, but it will be held in the mosque, or on the same day of the wedding.
3. Mehndi Party
The Mehndi party is an all-out extravagant affair. It’s the bride who is the belle of this particular ball. She will have henna applied onto her hands and be fed sweets and snacks by her family and friends. For the Gaye Holud (a grand ceremony usually held outdoors) the bride will have haldi applied as part of the beautification process. For each event, the groom traditionally provides the bridal trousseau, along with five gorgeous saris for post-wedding gatherings.
4. Holding the Gate
When the groom arrives at the venue, the bride’s side will block his entry and demand a fee for him to get through. It’s usually the younger guests who take part in Holding the Gate; jostling the groom, throwing confetti and playfully refusing entry. There’s plenty of bartering between the two groups, normally for some cash-in-hand!
5. Groom's Nikkah
If the Groom decides to have his Nikkah on his Wedding Day, the bride waits in another room. Once the Groom has made his entrance, a maulvi will be waiting to carry out his Nikkah. After he accepts the terms of marriage, he asks the congregation to bless the union before the bride enters to join her new husband on stage.
6. Getting Together
When the bride joins her husband, they playfully look at each other through a mirror before drinking sherbet. They feed each other sweet, rose flavoured milk and toast to officially being husband and wife.
7. Wedding Feast
Unusually, there are two top tables in a Bengali wedding; one each for the bride and groom. The groom will sit apart from his new wife and eat from the same thaal as his male relatives, while the bride will do the same with her female family members. Some of the bride’s younger relatives, may go over and playfully feed the newest member of their family to welcome him.
8. Giving away the Bride
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