One of the major components of any religion’s culture is marriage. The Muslims takes the sacred wedding ceremony very seriously, as it is believed to be one of the core responsibilities of a Muslim. It is the celebration of a new bond between two souls and their families, which would later lead to the preservation of their religion and culture as their family grows.
A Muslim wedding is called a Nikah Ceremony and it typically lasts for three days. This is because of the many symbolic rituals involved in the union of the families.
Muslim Wedding has a lot of amazing and fun traditions and rituals. These rituals are spread out and grouped into three: pre-wedding rituals, wedding rituals, and post-wedding rituals. Although it sounds quite formal, the Muslim wedding Ceremony is actually one of the most exciting and colorful weddings in the world. No expense is spared in making the ceremony a memorable one for the bride & groom, their families and guests.
Also you would see the most beautiful wedding dresses with intricate and beautiful hand embroidery, motifs and designs patterns. Food in a Muslim wedding is so delicious with rich flavors and aroma that you would think of it even after days of wedding.
Millions of Muslims reside in different parts of the world. As a result, their wedding customs have been tweaked and made regionally specific. However, irrespective of the differences, there are important traditions that all Muslim weddings share in common.
Below are some of the cultures and traditions that are a fundamental part of the Muslim wedding.
1. Salat al-Istikhara – Prayers to Allah
Arranged marriages are common and encouraged in the Muslim community. The parents are tasked with finding respectable and responsible partners for their children. Once the right match has been found, meetings are set between the families of the future groom and bride. After the marriage discussions have been finalized, the religious heads of the community are informed so that they can pray to Allah to seek his consent and blessings for the future couple.
The couple also takes part in the prayer, asking Allah for guidance and a happy home. This special prayer is known as the Salatul Ishtikara, and it is recognized as the official notification of marriage to the community. It is the first and most important pre-wedding ritual.
2. Imam Zamin – Groom’s mother to bless the bride
The Imam Zamin happens right after Salatul Ishtikara. The purpose of this second pre-wedding ritual is to mark the acceptance of the bride into her new family. It involves a visit from the groom’s mother, to the bride’s home.
She comes bearing gifts, sweets, and a symbolic gold or silver coin that is wrapped inside a silk scarf which she gently ties around her soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s wrist. This brings the ritual to an end, leaving the bride and her family feeling reassured that she is indeed welcome to join her future family.
3. Mangni – The ring ceremony
This is also known as the engagement ceremony. Here, the two families publicly declare the union of the bride and groom. Relatives and close friends of both families are invited to witness the ring exchange ritual on a set date, which will signify the official engagement between the bride and the groom.
Both families are also expected to shower each other with gifts such as clothes, sweets, fruits, and even money. Traditionally, the family of the groom presents their gifts first, then the bride’s.
Traditionally the rings were selected by the parents and given to the would be husband and wife but these days both bride and groom are choosy about the rings so they prefer to shop it together. A ring is for lifetime so it’s better be the best!
4. Manjha – Haldi Ceremony
For this ritual, the groom’s family sends over a turmeric (Haldi) paste, infused with some sandalwood and rose-water, to the bride. This is usually done a day or two before the main Nikah ceremony. The bride is dressed in haldi ceremony yellow clothing and all the women in her family gather to take turns at applying the paste on the bride’s face, hands and feet, and then each other.
It is a fun and relaxing event which also happens in the groom’s house. The purpose of this is to invite a peaceful and happy new beginning.
Turmeric is a very important and symbolic spice. It cleanses and relaxes the body, giving it a divine glow. This makes it perfect for pre-wedding skincare. Its color is also auspicious in the Indian culture and it is said to purify, heal and boost fertility. Thus, Manjha is considered a purification ritual.
After the ritual, the bride and groom are made to spend the remaining time leading to their wedding day indoors. They are not to leave their respective homes, for any reason whatsoever, until the wedding day. Errands and messages would be handled by the family members.
5. Heena aka Mehndi time!
Like Manjha, Mehndi is another women-centric pre-wedding ritual. Here, the most artistic woman in the bride’s family is tasked with adorning the bride’s hands and feet with henna paste.
However, some families prefer to hire professional mehndi artists instead as their designs tend to be more unique and beautiful. As a game, the groom’s initials are hidden within the henna designs and he has to find them on their first night together.
Bride usually has a special mehndi ceremony dress which is not too heavy and yet comfortable as Heena takes some time to dry up and bride can’t even eat with her hands during this time.
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The other women also get their hands and feet painted, after which a lot of dancing and singing takes place. It is a great way for them to bond and prepare the bride for her wedding. Of course, during this period, the bride and groom are still confined to their respective houses until the big day.
Heena or mehndi is like temporary tattoo which usually lasts for a month and slowly fades away. Also there is belief the bride who gets a dark colored Heena would be lucky and will get a lot of love from the groom’s family.
6. Sanchaq – Groom’s family visit
This is the final pre-wedding ritual of a traditional Muslim wedding. Leaving the groom behind to continue getting ready for the wedding, his family members pay a visit to the bride and her family.
They take along gifts of fruits, sweets, perfumes, and most importantly, the bridal outfit and matching accessories which are to be worn on the day of the Nikah ceremony. These gifts are known as Sanchaq and they signify the love and support of the bride’s new family.
7. Baraat arrival – Here comes the King
The most interesting and fun part of the Nikah Ceremony is the groom’s arrival. The groom is driven in a beautifully decorated car that is sent by the bride’s family and is escorted by his family, close friends, and a member of the bride’s family.
This procession is known as the Baraat. It is loud and colorful, announcing that the wedding will happen in a couple of hours. It is a splendid sight and the cheering goes on until the groom and his party arrives at the bride’s house or wedding venue.
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On the groom’s arrival, he and his entourage are given a grand and warm welcome by the bride’s family members. The groom is specially greeted by his brother-in-law or the bride’s closest brother figure, after which they proceed to share a drink of Sherbet (a sweet and chilled drink that is thought to bode a sweet marriage).
The groom and his relatives are then sprayed with rose-water and a beautiful path is created for them to enter the wedding venue. More gifts and drinks are shared and the guests are entertained with music and dancing.
8. Nikah – The Main Ceremony
The major wedding ceremony ritual is the Nikah ceremony. It is during the Nikah that the marriage would be solemnized. Depending on the couple and their families, the ceremony can either be a grand affair or an intimate one with just the immediate family members present to bear witness.
During the ceremony, the women sit and surround the bride while the men surround the groom. The Iman or Maulvi then reads some verses from the Quran and recites a prayer of blessing for the couple. After this, the Maulvi asks the bride if she consents to the marriage. If she agrees, she replies by saying “Quubool Hai”, which translates to “I do”, three times. The same is repeated for the groom.
The last step involved in this ceremony is the signing of the marriage contract which legally binds the bride and groom together.
9. Fatiha – First verse of holy Quran
A Fatiha is a prayer and the first chapter of the Quran. It is supposed to bring blessings to the new couple. The recital of the Fatiha is an intimate ceremony that follows the Nikah. It is important to do this because it is a way of seeking Allah’s guidance and protection.
It is customary for the Fatiha to be read in the presence of the couple and their immediate family members. After this, the officiant begins to speak about marriage, what is expected, and their responsibilities to Allah as well as themselves. At the end of the ceremony, the families gather to eat lots of knafeh and baklava with coffee.
10. Mehar – A contract for life!
The Mehar, also known as Mahr, is a type of dowry that is offered by the groom to the bride’s family during Nikah. It is often monetary, however, the families can also present precious jewelry or even properties instead. It symbolizes the groom’s love and commitment to the bride.
The Mehar is formally specified in the marriage contract which is signed during the Nikah ceremony. The purpose of this dowry is to guarantee the bride’s financial security. This is especially helpful in the case where the bride has no property of her own.
The Mehar is paid in two parts: the first part is due before the Nikah ceremony and the other is agreed upon and will be paid after the marriage is consummated. Most couples agree to use the wedding ring as the first Mehar.
11. Arsi Mushraf – See through Mirror
This ritual is done immediately after the wedding. The newly wedded couple get to lay their eyes on each other for the first time after the Nikah has been completed and the marriage solemnized by the officiant.
The Arsi Mushraf involves the bride and groom sitting next to each other with their heads still covered with a veil or a scarf, and a mirror and the Holy Quran placed between them. The couple is allowed to look in the mirror to see each other. Well, the reflection of their spouse.
After this, the men are separated from the women. The first round of dinner is then served to the couple and the guests. Once everyone has finished their meal, the bride and groom – still seated next to each other with their heads covered – are told to read some prayers.
12. Rukhsat – The Goodbyes
After the traditional Muslim wedding has been brought to an end by the Arsi Mushraf, the first post-wedding ritual begins. This is known as Rukhsat. Here, the bride is given the opportunity to bid her family goodbye.
It is an emotional moment that would have lots of eyes leaking. After the wishes and farewells, the father of the bride hands her over to the groom and asks him to take good care of his daughter. The bride then leaves the wedding venue with her groom and heads to his house. On her arrival at her new home, she is welcomed by her mother-in-law who then places the Holy Quran on her head to symbolize her duties as a wife.
13. Walimah – The Grand Celebration
The Walimah, also known as Dawat-e-dalimah, is the second post-wedding ritual of a Muslim wedding. It is a lavish wedding banquet that is usually hosted by the groom’s family. Immediate and distant relatives, friends, and even neighbors are invited to the feast. It is a grand wedding reception that is organized for the newlyweds to wish them a happy married life.
If you’re new to the scene, you might think you’re at a festival. There is an endless supply of food and lots of music and dancing. Sweet drinks are also shared. Although it is a celebration, the Muslim culture frowns upon the consumption of alcohol.
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This reception allows the couple to unwind a bit and also be introduced to extended family members and friends. The couple is treated like royalty and they are showered with more gifts and blessings. Walimah is the final public declaration of the marriage, in the presence of loved ones, to the whole community.
14. Chauthi – Visiting bride’s house
The last post-wedding ritual is called Chauthi. This happens four days after the wedding. The bride and groom set out to visit the bride’s family. On their arrival, they are greeted by the bride’s family with lots of gifts and love. After the greetings and pleasantries, the family moves to the dining room for a hearty meal.
The meal marks the end of the long but exciting wedding ceremony and rituals between the two families. The bride and groom are once again showered with gifts and prayers before they leave.
Final Word – Muslim Wedding
Islam is practiced is different forms depending upon the country, so you can expect regional influences in a Muslim wedding. However, if you are a first-timer to a Muslim wedding, restrain your urge to jump on the floor or get too intimate publicly. There are certain restrictions and you must respect them.
That said, a typical Muslim wedding offers you plenty of beautiful experiences to relish — some so unique that you won’t forget for a lifetime.
Checkout one such beautiful Muslim wedding:
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