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The Intricacies of Nikaah

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NikaahWeddings are beautiful, especially when conducted with all the traditional rituals intact. Memories are created in multiples and cherished for a lifetime. A wedding has everything: fun, frolic, great food, good music, an opportunity to show off your best clothes and jewels and of course the blessings of God. This is all especially true of the Muslim wedding.

Universally famous for the lavish feast served at a Muslim wedding, of equal importance are the special rasams that make the marriage unique. Let’s go visiting Varisha Fatima and Abbas’s wedding in Lucknow. The preparations for Varisha Fatima’s wedding began when the Nisbat (the proposal) was brought by Abbas’s family through a relative. The Nisbat was accepted by both the families and their wedding date was fixed. Wedding means shopping masti for everyone.

As the wedding day approached, the preparation for the Big Day began in full swing with buying of clothes and jewelry. The hoopla settled down a bit only to be restarted with renewed vigor a few days before the wedding. The Mangni, or the engagement ceremony, is the first of the formal pre-wedding rituals.

Held a few days before there Nikaah, it is the exchanging of rings. The shagun brought by the groom’s side consist of an outfit for the bride along with the imamzamin (or ‘God’s blessings’ is a tiny holy book with duas that is wrapped in a red cloth) which is tied on the arm of the bride for her well-being. A similar imamzamin is tied on the groom’s arm. A convenient date for the marriage or Nikaah is fixed on this day.

The Maanjha (haldi) and mehendi ceremony took place at the Varisha Fatima’s house one day before the wedding. The Maanjha ceremony is the formal function where Varisha Fatima is anointed with turmeric paste and sandalwood to bring out the glow in her complexion. She is to wear yellow clothes. Not just her, anybody visiting the bride on the day is also supposed to wear yellow. In fact everything around her—even the flowers—has to reflect the golden hues. A similar function is held in the groom’s house. In fact the haldi from the groom’s house is taken to the bride’s home.

After this ceremony the bride is not allowed to step out of the house till the wedding day. Also, they both have to wear the same clothes till the day of the wedding. The groom too is not actually allowed to step out, but if at all he does, it has to be in the same clothes, holding on to a metal object and a lime to ward off the evil eye.

The mehendi is applied one day before the wedding. The night before the wedding is the sangeet or the Ratjaga. A time for fun, frolic, dance, and music.

At last, with all the hungama and fun, the wedding day arrives. The Baratis usually come to the bride’s home or the venue decided by the bride’s family. In the orthodox Muslim communities, the men and women are seated separately. Upon the arrival of Abbas along with his family and relatives, the sisters of the bride welcomed their brother-in-law to be in a typically masti manner: by beating him with a stick wrapped around flowers! All the Baratis were welcomed by garlands and flowers.

On this day, Varisha Fatima wears Nikkha ka joda provided by the groom’s family along with the nath and teeka and green bangles given by them. Sehra is tied on both the bride and the groom and this is called the Sehrabandhai. The Sehra is traditionally made of flowers that have to be tied to the head. Sehra is provided by Varisha Fatima’s father for both her and Abbas. Some Sehras are so long that reach the ankle. The Sehra is tied by married men on to the groom and married women to the bride.

Soon after the Sehrabandhai, the Nikaah takes place in the presence of the Maulvi (priest), fathers of both the groom and the bride and two witnesses. The Nikkhanama is the document prepared by the Mauvli. It is a statement of terms and conditions mentioned according to the Islamic law. The Meher (nuptial gift) is decided by the bride’s father, right then at the Nikaahnama.

It is an amount of money given by the groom’s family to the Bride. The Nikaahnama is read loudly and the Nikaah is complete after the Ijab-e-Qubul (acceptance) by both first the bride Varisha Fatima and then Abbas by signing on the paper. Abbas receives his blessing by the Salamkaraie given to him by the guests. After the Nikkha, the dinner is served.

After dinner, Varisha Fatima and Abbas are made to sit together for the first time as husband and wife. This is called the Aarsi mussaf ceremony. It is an important ceremony among the Muslims. A duppata is use to cover the head of both the Bride and the Groom. The Holy Quran is placed in front of them and they are allowed to see each other through the reflection of a silver mirror. Dry dates and mishri are distributed among the guest after this ceremony.

The Ruksati follows after this and Varisha Fatima bids farewell to her family. The bride’s mother-in-law places the Quran above her daughter-in-law’s head as she enters her new house for the first time. This brings luck and prosperity in the life of the newly wedded couple. Dawat-e-Valima is the lavish reception that the groom’s family host two days after the Nikaah.

Chauthi is the fourth day after the wedding when the Abbas brings Varisha Fatima to her parents place for the first time after ruksati. All these ceremonies make the Muslim wedding a great treat and fun for the invitees.

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