Muslim Wedding Rituals

Islam recognizes marriage as an act of devotion to God and a solemn pact that must be respected by the couple throughout their lives. Muslim weddings attach great significance to customs. And as anyone who has had the good fortune of attending a Muslim wedding knows, festivity, traditional splendour and lavish banquets make the occasion a great treat for the invitees.

Mangni Dinner, Prayers and Aarshimashaf
Mehndi Ceremony Rukshat
Wlecoming The Baraat Welcoming The Bride
Nikaah Chauthi
Nikaahnama Valimah
Blessing The Groom
Mangni
The prospective bride and groom exchange rings during the mangni or engagement ceremony. The bride-to-be wears an outfit gifted to her by her future in-laws. A convenient date for the wedding or the Nikaah is fixed after the mangni.
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Mehndi Ceremony
The Mehndi (henna) ceremony is held at the home of the bride-to-be on the eve of the wedding ceremony or a couple of days before it. The female relatives of the girl anoint her with turmeric paste to bring out the glow in her complexion. A relative or a mehndiwali (henna artist) applies mehndi on the hands and feet of the bride-to-be. The mehndiwali usually uses a mehndi cone to draw thin, artistic patterns on the hands and feet of the blushing bride-to-be. The mehndi is washed off after a few hours or kept overnight for a dark hue. The event has a festive feel to it with the women singing traditional songs. The bride-to-be wears sober clothes. According to custom, she must not step out of the house for the next few days until her marriage. Sometimes, the girl's cousins apply a dot of mehndi on the palm of the groom-to-be by his relatives or, in some cases.
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Welcoming The Baraat
The groom arrives at the wedding venue with his baraat (wedding procession). A band of musicians strike up some traditional notes to announce their arrival. The groom shares a drink of sherbet with the bride's brother. The bride's sisters play pranks and slap the guests playfully with batons made of flowers. 
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Nikaah
The Nikaah or wedding ceremony can be conducted at the home of the bride or the groom, or at any other convenient venue. A Maulvi (priest) in the presence of close family members and relatives conducts the ceremony. In orthodox Muslim communities, the men and women are seated separately. The 'Walis' (the father of the bride and of the bridegroom) play an important role in the ceremony. As a father, each must ensure that the rights of his child are protected. The Maulvi reads selected verses from the Quran, the holy book of the Muslims. The Nikaah is complete after thIjab-e-Qubul. (proposal and acceptance). Usually, the boy's side proposes and the girl's side conveys her assent. The mutual consent of the bride and groom is of great importance for the marriage to be legal. Neither of them must be forced to enter into the marital contract.
It is on the day of the Nikaah that the elder members of the two families decide the amount of Mehar (nuptial gift). The Mehar is a compulsory amount of money given by the groom's family to the bride.
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Nikaahnama
The Nikaahnaama is a document in which the marriage contract is registered. It contains a set of terms and conditions that must be respected by both the parties. It also gives the bride the right to divorce her husband. For the contract to be legal, it must be signed by the bridegroom, the bride, the Walis, and the Maulvi.
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Blessing The Groom
The groom receives blessings from the older women and offers them his salaam (a respectful salutation). The guests pray for the newly-weds.
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Dinner, Prayers and Aarshimashaf
Dinner is a lavish spread. Usually, the women and the men dine separately. After dinner, the newly-weds sit together for the first time. Their heads are covered by a dupatta (traditional scarf) while they read prayers under the direction of the maulvi (priest). The Quran is placed between the couple and they are allowed to see each only through mirrors (aarsi).
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Rukshat
The bride's family bids her a tearful farewell before she departs for her husband's house. The bride's father gives her hand to her husband and tells him to take protect and take good care of her.
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Welcoming The Bride
The groom's mother holds the Quran above the head of her new daughter-in-law as she enters her new home for the first time after the wedding.
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Chauthi
The Chauthi is the fourth day after the wedding, when the bride visits the home of her parents. She receives a joyous welcome on this day.
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Valimah
The Valimah is the lavish reception that the groom's family hosts after the Nikaah. The reception is held in a club, on the grounds of a Muslim gymkhana, or in a banquet hall. It is a joyous occasion that brings together the two families, their relatives and other well-wishers.
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