7 South Asian Muslim Wedding Traditions You Should Know
Tradition, culture, and norms come together to make Muslim weddings the way they are; exciting, fun, and full of love. Compared to before, Muslim weddings have changed drastically. They used to be very simple and marked by a few events only. However, with the mixing of cultures and societies, Muslim weddings have also changed.
Most weddings also happen in phases. From the first time the bride and groom's families meet till the walima, every special occasion is celebrated to the fullest.
Witnessing a Muslim wedding is a treat on its own. However, if you haven't had the pleasure, don't worry.
We will be untangling the mystery behind south Asian Muslim weddings right here.
Engagement- a sacred bond is made.
The concept of engagement in Muslim households and especially in the east is very different from the concept elsewhere. In the west, the man and woman exchange ring to celebrate a formal engagement and announce their union in front of their friends and family. The purpose of the engagement is the same in the east too. However, the way of celebrating and announcing the engagement is quite different.
In eastern households, the chain of wedding events starts from the baat-pakki rasm, also known as the Muslim version of a Muslim engagement. During the baat-pakki rasm, families come together to exchange gifts and wedding rings on behalf of the bride and groom. This is followed by a dua and a formal dinner. However, in some families, both the bride and the groom also attend the function and are part of the formal proceedings.
According to Islamic laws, the families should perform these duties and not the bride and groom themselves.
Henna- the essence of a Muslim bride.
Among the many commonalities of Muslim weddings, one that is beloved by almost everyone is the henna tradition. Applying a henna design on the hand may not sound like a big deal in the west. But in the eastern societies, meticulous planning and preparation go into the mehndi event.
Muslim women spend hours selecting the most intricate and beautiful designs to decorate their hands with. They then hire the most famous and renowned beauticians who perform the task, but this isn't all.
The mehndi/henna event isn't for the bride only. It is a function that brings together all the young girls and women of the family for an occasion of pure bliss and happiness. The bride's friends and cousins often get hennas on their hands, with some of them matching their designs with the bride's.
All in all, the henna and mehndi event is an exquisite and unique part of the Asian wedding and one that kick-starts the rest of the festivities.
Mehr- the groom’s gift.
You won't find a single Asian wedding without this mandatory part. Mehr is the obligatory amount of money that the groom gives to the bride once they both enter the marriage contract. For a long time, opponents of Islam have controversialized the concept of Mehr, suggesting that the money is paid in exchange for ownership of the woman.
On the contrary, it is a glorious concept that reflects the beginning of a beautiful life. It is a gift that the groom gives to the bride to show his love and admiration for the latter.
The Mehr is decided at the time of the signing of the contract and it is incumbent upon the groom to pay this amount as soon as the marriage surmounts. However, some people delay it unnecessarily and only grant it on the demand of their wives. The latter is frowned upon.
Dholki- 3 fun days before the main event.
According to most Muslim traditions, listening to music is prohibited in Islam and many families abide by the laws and avoid any songs during the festivities. However, some organize dholki events in the days preceding the main event.
What happens during these dholki events is quite fascinating. The event starts after 7 and is attended by the families and friends of the bride and groom. However, in most families, each side has their own set of dholkis and are celebrated individually.
Dholkis are commemorated by singing songs and dedicating poems to the bride and the groom. Moreover, elderly females also beat the drum and sing songs to celebrate the promising union. It is also interesting to note that these songs are often not understood by the majority of youngsters, but they enjoy them nonetheless.
Baraat- the groom meets the bride.
The event of baraat is known as rukhsati in some families, but regardless of the name, the festivities are more or less the same. Baraat is one of the most important parts of an Asian wedding and one people are more excited about.
Baraat is a grand event in any household and one that requires months of planning and preparation. Before the event starts, the bride and groom go to their respective parlors and get ready for their grand day. For women, the stakes are much higher. This is why you will see many brides fretting over their preparation and spending hours selecting their dresses, their jewelry, and their makeup look.
On the actual day, the bride is expected to reach the parlor at least 3-4 hours before the event. As soon as they reach, they are dolled up. Needless to say, as soon as the brides enter the hall, all eyes are set on them.
Once the bride and groom reach and the families arrive, gifts are exchanged. Moreover, the bride's family or sometimes both the bride and the groom host a grand dinner for their friends, family, and acquaintances.
You will also be surprised to know the sheer number of people at a baraat event. It's practically everyone that the family knows. Needless to say, it is a grand event.
Joota chupai- the most fun part of a south Asian Muslim wedding.
Joota chupai, like most other wedding events, reflects joy and happiness. It is a tradition that is unique to South Asian weddings and won't be seen in other parts of the world. This is what makes it unique and so mesmerizing.
It is one where youngsters of the family, especially the bride's friends, and cousins hide the shoes of the groom. Meticulous planning goes and a decisive plan is finalized. The art is to hide it so that the groom doesn't have a chance to escape. However, this part does not involve any hostility and in most instances, the groom gives away his shoes willingly.
Once the bride's friends have the shoes, the fun begins. The holding party demands a certain amount of ransom from the groom in exchange for the shoes. The price usually starts from a high digit and gradually comes down. The negotiation part is the most fun and involves the exchange of playful remarks. They do not return the shoes until they receive their required amount of money.
In some events, joota chupai is followed by a 'doodh pilai' rasam. This is when the bride's family urges the groom to drink a glass of specially prepared milk. Money and bargains are also involved in this. The groom usually refuses to drink this glass of milk. However, after some convincing, he usually agrees. This is followed by negotiations and ends with the groom handing some money to the bride's sisters and cousins.
Walima- end your south Asian Muslim wedding with a bang.
The most elegant and precious part of a Muslim wedding is the walima. This is a mandatory part of the wedding and one that involves the groom's family hosting a grand dinner for everyone else. The event starts with both the bride and groom preparing for the big event. Just like barat, a lot of preparation also goes into the dress, the jewelry, and the makeup of the bride.
Once the couple arrives, dinner is served. In most South Asian weddings, silver, white and soft colors dominate this event. You will see most of the brides wearing a glamorous white or silver gown with intricate detailing and design. The groom often wears a black shalwar kameez or pant coat and perfectly compliments his wife.
Moreover, the vibe of the hall also reflects elegance and grace. Most families choose to decorate the stage and the hall with exquisite white and blue roses. These enhance the look of the event.
Some couples prefer much simpler weddings. Rather than inviting a large number of people and hosting them at a grand hall, the couple dresses up nicely and distributes food to the poor and the needy. The latter is also the Islamic way of celebrating one's wedding.
Austerity is the essence of Islam and is reflected in this simple walima event.