Muslim wedding rituals
Arranged marriages are prevalent among Indian Muslims and the matches are
generally sought within the same religious sect and communities. Once a match has been finalized
by the families who deem each other compatible, the religious head or the Imam of the nearby
mosque is intimated and he performs a special prayer where he seeks Allah’s consent for the
intended union and asks Him to bless the future couple. This marks the official announcement of the
marriage to the community. The would-be bride and groom also attend the prayers and ask for
guidance from Allah through prayer.
Imam Zamin – Following the Ishtikara, the groom’s mother, on an auspicious day, visits the bride’s
home carrying gifts and sweets. She also carries a gold or silver coin wrapped inside a silk scarf
which she ties around her future daughter-in-law’s wrists. This ritual signifies the formal acceptance
of the bride into her future family.
Mangni marks the official engagement ceremony between the bride and groom and their
respective families. Close friends and relatives from both families gather on a pre-determined
day to witness the bride and groom exchange rings. Each family showers the other with gifts of
sweets, fruits, dry fruits, clothes, and sometimes cash. This ceremony officially seals the intention of
marriage between the two families and the bride and the groom are considered betrothed to each
other in the eyes of society.
This is certainly an adopted ritual within the Muslim wedding practices in India. A day or
two before the actual Nikah ceremony, the bride is dressed up in yellow finery. A paste made of
Turmeric, sandalwood, and rose water are applied to the bride’s face, hands, and feet. The women of
the family gather for the occasion to participate in a fun and full of mischief event. They take their
turn in applying the paste to the bride and to each other. After the application of turmeric paste is
complete, the bride goes on to take the bath. After her Manjha, the bride is not supposed to leave
the house till her wedding day. The same event is also observed at the groom’s house as well.
Middle-eastern and Indo-Pakistani Muslim brides observe an elaborate ritual involving henna paste is known as Mehendi. It is again a women-centric event, where the women of the family
gather around the bride the evening before the wedding. The most artistic lady in the family is
entrusted with the task of applying henna paste in unique, elaborate designs on the bride’s hands
and feet. Nowadays, professional Mehendi artists are also hired to do the job. It is customary to
include the groom’s initials within the bride’s henna designs which he has to discern on their first
night together. Other female members of the family also get their hands painted with henna.
Sanchaq During this pre-wedding ritual, members of the groom’s family visit the bride’s place
bearing gifts for her from her future in-laws. Along with these gifts of sweets, fruits, etc., the bridal
outfit to be worn at the time of the Nikah is also sent. Accompanying the outfit, matching jewelry
and other accessories are also sent. Some families even send over perfumes, cosmetics, and
toiletries for the bride.
Generally, Muslim grooms wear Kurta Pajama or Kurta with churidar. There is generally no color
restriction except for black, which is considered the color of mourning among Muslims. Generally,
some form of embroidery work is preferred on the kurtas to have that Wedding kind of feel.
Nowadays, Muslim grooms are more and more drawn towards wearing a Sherwani or some other
The wedding attire for a Muslim bride is pretty strictly outlined in the Holy Quran. At any point, only her
face and hands are to be remaining visible to the public and she has to be decently covered up.
Salwar Kameez is hence the top choice for Muslim brides when it comes to wedding attires. Apart
from Salwar Kameez, saree or Sharara are also quite popular choices. Salwar Kameez has to have
modest necklines and a dupatta to cover the bride’s head at all times. Green is considered to be the
most auspicious color in Islam and bridal outfits in green color are most popular. The outfit also
includes intricate zari embroidery, dead-work, and designs. She wears a host of ornaments made of
gold and precious stones. Necklaces, earrings, and bangles are some of the most common
ornaments. The Muslim bride has to wear a nose ring on the right side of her face that needs to be
replaced by a nose pin after she is married. The nose pin on the right side of the nose is compulsory
for married Muslim women. One key piece of jewelry that is identified with Muslim brides is a
Jhoomar or Pasa. A Triangular or fan-shaped ornament which is sort of the modified version of the
Mang Tika is attached to the hair but on one side of the hairstyle, preferably the left side. She may
or may not wear an actual Mang Tika with the Pasa.
The groom sets out from his home with great pomp and show accompanied by a host of
his close friends and relatives. A beautifully decorated car is generally sent by the bride’s family to
bring the groom. A member of the bride’s family goes to the groom’s place and sort of escorts him
on the way to the wedding venue. The relatives of the groom follow this car and the whole wedding
party heading towards the wedding venue is known as the Baraat.
As the groom arrives at the wedding venue he is met at the entrance by the bride’s
family members. He is warmly welcomed into the venue and is offered a drink of sweet Sherbet by
his brother-in-law who gives him company for the drink. The relatives of the groom also receive
a grand welcome and are sprayed with ittar-scented or rose-water as they enter the wedding venue.
Nikah – The Wedding or Nikah ceremony is officiated by a religious priest or Maulvi. The men and
the women are seated in separate groups for the ceremony. The women generally take their place
around the bride and the men with the groom. The father of the bride is appointed Wali or guardian
to look after the bride’s interest in the Nikah by the Maulvi. The groom’s family presents the bride
with Mehr which is a generally pre-decided amount of cash to seek her consent for marrying the
groom. The Maulvi starts the Nikah proceeding by first saying a prayer from the Quraan. Next, he
asks the bride if she is consenting to marry the groom by accepting the Mehr. This is where he asks
the bride the phrase ‘Qubool Hain?’ (Do you give your consent) three times in a row. The bride has
to reply by saying “Qubool Hain” in an assertive and affirmative tone all three times. Then the Maulvi
moves on to the groom and repeats the procedure. This ritual is known as Ijab-e-Qubool. The bride
and groom are to remain separated from each other so that they are not able to see each other. The
Ijab-e-Qubool is followed by the signing of the Nikahnama or marriage contract. The Nikahnama outlines
all possible duties and rites of both the bride and the groom as decreed by the Quran. At least two
observers from each side need to bear witness to the signing by both the groom and the bride. This is
followed by the recital of Khutba, a religious discourse. The Maulvi then recites paragraphs from the
Holy Quran which are equivalent to marriage vows. The bride and groom need not repeat these
vows but listen to them. The recital of vows is followed by duruds wherein the elders of the family
shower their blessings on the newlywed couple.
During this ritual, the couple gets the chance to lay eyes on each other for the first
time after the marriage has been solemnized. A mirror is kept between the bride and the groom and
the Holy Quran is placed on top of it. The couple is to look in the mirror where they can see the
reflection of their spouses.
Soon after the wedding is concluded, the bride bids a tearful goodbye to her family and
sets off for her husband’s house. When she arrives at her husband’s house, she is extended a warm
welcome by her mother-in-law. As a gesture of welcome as well as a reminder of her duties, the Holy
Quran is placed on her head.
Walimah – The ceremony of Walimah marks the public declaration of the marriage. It is generally
done by holding a grand reception party. For the reception, the bride and groom are generally
seated on a throne atop a stage, where they meet and greet all members from both families. The
event includes a grand feast of traditional Muslim delicacies like Biryani, Meat Korma, etc.
This ceremony involves the bride visiting her parent’s home on the fourth day of the
wedding accompanied by her new husband. Her parents treat the newlywed couple with a lavish
lunch and give them various gifts. The Chauthi concludes all the events of a typical