Three Days of a Traditional Indian Muslim Wedding
***DUE TO SPACE CONSTRAINTS, PRESENCE AT THE MEHNDI, THE WEDDING, AND THE WEDDING RECEPTION ARE BY INVITATION ONLY*** Muslim weddings throughout the Indian subcontinent have developed specifically Asian traditions while maintaining Islamic marriage requirements.
* Mehndi ceremony* The Mehndi ceremony is traditionally held at the home of the bride, or at a place arranged by the bride‟s family. On the eve of the wedding ceremony or a couple of days before (In our case, it’s being held on the evening of the 26th of October, at 7:00pm at Elgin West Community Centre, 11099 Bathurst Street Richmond Hill, L4C 0N2). The family members and close friends on the bride and groom‟s side feed the bride and groom sweets and anoint them with turmeric paste to bring out the glow in their complexion (we will not be participating in this ritual…I don’t need extra calories from sweets, and Andrew’s yellow glow will cause him to look ill, as apposed to radiant! We may, however, have fruits and shish kababs). A relative or a mehndiwali applies mehndi (henna) on the hands and feet of the bride. Other members of the family may also apply henna to join into the festivities. The event has a festive feel to it with the women singing traditional songs. The bride wears toned down clothing in shades of green, yellow, gold, orange or red. According to custom she must not step out of the house for the next few days until her marriage. Traditionally, this event is a women‟s-only event. They come dressed in shades similar to the shades of the bride… usually yellows and reds, but pinks, greens, and oranges are also common. In our case, men will also be invited to the mehndi, however, after dinner is served, they will be separated from the women with a barrier. This will allow the women to feel comfortable to carry on with singing and dancing that is done at the mehndi. This ceremony is light and fun, and is not formal like the wedding ceremony is… it’s a chance to relax, let loose, and to allow the bride and groom’s family and friends to interact and to get to know each other. The Wedding The groom arrives at the wedding venue with his family. Traditionally, a band of musicians strike up some traditional notes to announce their arrival (we wont have this). * Nikaah* The Nikaah or wedding ceremony can be conducted at the home of the bride or the groom, or at any other convenient venue (Our Nikkah will be taking place at the bride’s home, 4 Squire Drive, Richmond Hill, L4S 1C4 at 1:30pm, on the 28th of October)
An Imam, (kind of like a Muslim minister) in the presence of close family members and relatives, conducts the ceremony. In orthodox Muslim communities, the men and women are seated separately (we wont be). The Imam reads selected verses from the Quran (The Muslim Holy Book) and the Nikaah is complete after the Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance). The Imam will confirm in front of all of the witnesses that the groom agrees to marry the bride, and will then ask the bride 3 times to confirm that she wishes to marry the groom, free of any pressures or coercions. 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, and also gives the bride the right to divorce her husband (the right of the husband to divorce the wife is traditionally accepted by many societies, but not the reciprocal… that is why the Islamic marriage document contains this…to ensure equal rights on both ends). * Dinner, Prayers and Aarsimashaf* (Held at Bella Banquet Hall, King City on October 28th at 4:00 pm) Dinner is a lavish spread. Traditionally, after dinner, the newly-weds sit together for the first time. Their heads are covered by a dupatta 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. (We are not going traditional on this part of the wedding! Rather, the layout of events for the wedding day has been provided below) The wedding reception is a very formal time. People do not dance at the reception, and the entire tone of the event is much more subdued and elegant than the Mehndi (refer to explanation above). The Mehndi rather, is the time when dancing singing and laughing takes place.
* Ruksat* The bride's family bids her a tearful farewell before she departs for her husband's house (in our case, Niagara Falls –for lack of time of anything more lavish). The bride's father gives her hand to her husband and tells him to take protect and take good care of her. Attire Almost any formal wear can be worn at the wedding, however, if it‟s possible to avoid low cut clothing and clothing with shorter hemlines, that would be most appropriate.
Islamic Wording and Meaning You may have noticed rather ornate writing in Arabic at the top of the wedding invitation. The words say “Bismillahi ArRahman ArRaheem” Muslims use this to
commence any good deed or big event; the translation is: In the name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful” The Islamic greeting is “AsSalam-alaikum” you may hear this quite often at the wedding reception, and it will be used to open the wedding program at the reception. The translation is: “May the peace and blessings of God be upon you” While this sounds fancy, the greeting is used regularly in place of “Hello” or “Hi”. The idea is that you greet someone with best wishes and prayers for him/her in mind. When Andrew and I will enter the reception venue for the first time, a song will be playing in the background. The song is by a famous Malaysian group that only sing spiritual songs. Half of the song is in Malay, so I have no clue what it means, the other half is in Arabic… I‟m working on getting a translation for this part. I like the beat of the song, and I know that the lyrics have something to do with the marvels of nature and how everything is the way it is because it was made so by God...or at least, my bad understanding of Arabic lead me to this understanding… like I said, I‟ve been trying to find a translation or someone who can translate… I may actually ask a student of mine for help, and will give out more information as it comes.
Layout of events for October 28th: 1:30: arrival of groom‟s close family and friends to begin the Nikkah (wedding ceremony) at the bride‟s house 2:15: snacks and departure for Richmond Green for pictures 3:00-4:00: wedding pictures of family and friends, bride and groom 4:00a: Family and friends depart for Bella Banquet Reception Hall in King City to mingle and to greet arriving guests (Jesse leaves with this group). Appetizers will start being served here at 4:00, as guests arrive. 4:00b: Andrew and Sayema stay with Vanessa for more „newly wed‟ photos 5:00: Arrival of Bride and groom to Banquet Hall 5:10-6:15- Wedding program 6:30- Break for prayer (Muslim sunset prayer) 7:00: Dinner 8:15: Andrew‟s 3 songs 8:40: Cutting of Cake 9:00- Dessert, Cake, Coffee and Tea served 9:30-10:00- Bride and Groom Depart
Reception Program for October 28th (this is a work
Entrance of siblings (Sayema)? Entrance of best men (Andrew)? Entrance of bride‟s parents Entrance of groom‟s parents Flower girls/guys Bride and groom‟s entrance Ascent onto stage Welcome clap Opening with a reading from the Qur‟an and translation by Sajed (bride‟s brother) Islamic Prayer (?) Non-denominational prayer by Alydia (bride and groom‟s friend) Exchange of rings Speech by Sadia (bride‟s sister) Power point slide Speech by Dan (groom‟s friend) Reading of poem by John (groom‟s friend)