Memoirs from a Muslim Wedding Nikah and Walima

The day of the nikah is the most important and religiously ordained ceremony in the Muslim wedding. The Mirza family has opted for a day nikah in a farmhouse towards the South of Delhi, away from the bustle of their family home in Old Delhi. The nikah ceremony is to be held just after the Zohar namaz (afternoon prayers). The guests start coming in early in the afternoon. In a Muslim wedding, the nikah is held before the feasting and it is considered proper to arrive early to be a part of nikah ceremony.

 

Shahana is dressed in a rich red sharara and it's the most stunning bridal dress I have seen. Just before the nikah the bride is seated in an enclosure away from the wedding party with her bridesmaids and the elder ladies of the family. The maulvi sahib (religious head) is the most important figure as he is the one who solemnizes the wedding. The Muslim wedding is a contract agreement, where the maulvi first goes to the bride and asks her for her consent. Also at this time the maulvi mentions the amount of mehr that the groom owes her as part of her security before entering the marital status. The bride after she says she agrees to the union is made to sign a contract. The maulvi sahib along with two witnesses are also supposed to sign the nikahnama bearing responsibility that both bride and groom consented to the wedlock with their own free will. The groom who's seated in the main wedding area with his close friends is now waiting for his turn for nikah. The maulvi arrives and the groom dressed in a resplendent off-white sherwani and a sehra bedecked with flowers greets the maulvi sahib with a salam. The men offer a prayer called Istikhara where they seek divine blessings for the match. The maulvi now asks the groom in presence of the attendees if he accepts the marital bond. The groom is supposed to say qubool hai thrice. The moment the third qubool hai is heard, the guests break into congratulatory greetings .The groom also now signs the nikahnama followed by the two witnesses. The maulvi sahib now holds a slightly longer dua service again exhorting God to bless the newly wed couple. Small treat bags comprising khajoor (dates), sweets and dry fruits are distributed to guests as an auspicious token. The bride is now brought to sit along with the groom and this is the first time both of them see each other in the evening, this time as a man and wife. The party then continues with guests sampling some richest mughlai dishes and bride is now sent to her new home in a teary rukhsati ceremony.

Usually the walima or reception from the groom’s side is held a day or two after the wedding. According to Islamic principles walima is supposed to be a bigger gathering where the groom side can invite all their guests. The idea is to limit the baraat to a minimum people so as not to burden the brides family. The walima is a reception ceremony and is just a wedding feast thrown to all the friends and family. The bride and the groom meet and greet the guests as god food sets the tone for the evening.

 

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