Islam traditions and practices are as varied as the countries from which they hail. Marriage in Islam is viewed as a religious obligation, a contract between the couple and Allah. Muslim wedding rituals usually extend up to three days. The ritual revolves around the major custom of approval of the competent parties in front of the witness. Marriage traditions differ depending on culture, Islamic sect and observance of gender separation rules.
The ceremony of Muslim wedding starts with ring exchange (Mangni) ceremony. Thereafter they are committed to each other to become life partners. One of the most beautiful and charming ceremony is the Mehndi. The ceremony is held a couple of days before marriage wherein the female relatives of the girl smear her with turmeric paste and then Mehndi is applied on the hands of the bride. It is a festive mood with dance and music and entertainment. Sometimes a dot of mehndi is applied on the palm of the groom by bride’s cousin. Welcoming the baarat is another pre-marital custom among the Muslims. A band of musicians accompany the baarat to announce the groom’s arrival. A grand welcoming of the groom by the bride’s sisters and brothers and cousins make the event more festive. The marriage contract is signed in a Nikkah ceremony, which can be conducted at the home of the bride or the groom, or at any other suitable venue. The men and women sit separately for the event. A Maulvi or the priest in the presence of close family members and relatives conducts the Nikkah ceremony. Walis or the father of the bride and of the groom plays a vital role in the ceremony. They sit together and decide the amount of Maher or the nuptial gift given by groom’s family to the bride. The bride and groom demonstrate their free will by repeating the word Qabul (‘I accept’) in the presence of witness and then the couple may share a piece of sweet fruit, such as a date . If men and women are separated for the ceremony, a Wali acts on the behalf of bride.
Dinner, prayers and Aarsimashaf (a reading from the holy Quran) are followed on the wedding day itself. A lavish spread of eatables is arranged for the guests. A Walima or the marriage banquet is also held by groom, maybe on the same day or the following day to share in the groom’s happiness on the occasion of his marriage and to give thanks to Allah.
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