This is the final in a series of three posts: Bollywood Borrowed presents the ultimate guide to Sikh, Hindu and Muslim weddings! If you’re not sure which one you are attending — give us a call and we might be able to help you out.
Islamic weddings practices differ between native cultures (for example Indian Muslim ceremonies will be slightly different to Pakistani Muslim ceremonies) but the ceremony itself is common to all sects of the faith.
The ceremony itself is called the Nikah and involves an exchange of contracts between the bride and the groom. The Nikah doesn’t usually take place at a Mosque (Muslim place of worship). It is generally led by an Imam (religious leader), a Maulvi (religious scholar) or a Qazi (officiant of Muslim law).
You may be invited to a Dholki which is a pre-wedding night of singing and dancing. The idea is that the bride or groom beats their own Dholki (drum) and leads the festivities in preparation for their wedding. Close members of the family often perform by singing and dancing during the festivities, and guests are often asked to join in, so prepare your moves beforehand! At some Dholki events, men attend but remain in a separate room, but at others they may join in. It’s best to ask the family if you’re unsure, as it is dependent on their wishes.
The wedding ceremony involves the Meher (Mahr) which is prepared beforehand. It’s a formal statement of the things that will be due to the bride upon marriage. The principle behind this is that the bride has her own possessions after marriage, and has the free will to choose how they are used. It could be money, an education or a gift.
On the day of the Nikah, depending on the wishes of the family, men and women may be seated separately so watch out for directions at the venue. It could be that they are seated in separate rooms or separate parts of the same room. Often, the bride and groom are also seated away from each other.
The groom has a representative who proposes to the bride in front of at least two witnesses. The couple then agree to the Meher by repeating “Qubool” (which means I agree) three times. If the bride is separated from the groom, her representatives (usually brothers and father, called the Waalis) to the groom’s side to accept the marriage. The couple and two witnesses sign the Nikhah Nama (marriage contract) at which point the marriage becomes legal under Muslim law and the couple share a sweet or a date to mark the moment.
This is a prayer which is recited for the bride, groom and the congregation. The first verse of the Quran (Fatihah) is often recited by the officiant of the ceremony.
Muslim weddings are intended to be joyous public announcements of the nuptials. The Walimah is a decadent feast which the entire congregation is invited to enjoy.
After the Duoa, the couple are often seated on elaborately decorated thrones. Their guests queue to present gifts and bestow blessings on the newlyweds.