Marriage in Pakistan is a family event of happiness and festivity. The occasion of marriage brings together all the family members and neighborhood under one roof. A Pakistani marriage generally consists of four main ceremonies of nikah, mehndi, rukhsati and valima however; such smaller events like mangani (engagement), mayoun (applying hina on bride’s hand), dholki (drum beating) are also celebrated by some people along with main functions.
Mangani (engagement) is the formal engagement or commitment of the couple destined to become married. Rings are exchanged between boy and girl and a tentative wedding date is decided at this time. After the engagement, formal preparations for the wedding start.
Concept of Jahez (Dowry) – There is a concept of Jahez (dowry or bride’s wealth) in Pakistan which though doesn’t have any religious standing, but still people feel a need to give dowry to their daughters in order to boost family’s social standing in the eyes of the boy’s family.
Burry (gift from the grooms family to bride) – The boys family prepare burry to be given to the girl. This includes clothing and jewelry.
Mayoun (applying ubtan on bride’s face and body) is usually the first event of a wedding. From this day on, the bride is proscribed from the groom’s eyes till the day of marriage. Ubton, a herbal concoction is applied on bride’s face and body. Everyone wears yellow clothes to blend into the colors of ubton. Some people also recite Quran or hold Quran khawani at homes to seek Allah’s blessings. During Mayoun, friends and family sit in circle with Dholak (a horizontal two-sided percussion drum) and sing traditional wedding songs throughout the evening. The Mayoun generally merge in to Dholki.
Mehndi or Rasm e-Henna is generally celebrated couple of days before wedding. The bride wears a yellow dress for this event and uses only light, or no, make up. Flowers are worn by women like gajray (flower garlands) in place of jewellary. While the groom wears a white shalwar kameez. The bride and the groom are brought forward under a decorative dupatta by their close relatives and friends. The women of the family sing traditional wedding songs and dance on this occasion. The bride’s palms and soles are decorated with intricate Mehndi designs.
Nikah is the Islamic marriage contract. It takes place at the bride’s house or sometimes at the Masjid. The Nikah Khawan (Authorized person for recording the Nikah) normally Imam Masjad (head for prayers). The bride and groom must both have three witnesses present. A close male relative asks from girl her consent and gets her signatures on the Nikahnama. Dried dates are served to guest to celebrate.
Baraat (for boys) or Rukhsati (for girls) is the main day of marriage. It kicks off with Sehra-bandi. The groom wears a sehra (a veil of flowers) from his residence. Family members of the groom present him gifts or salami (gift money). The reception of barat is organized by the bride’s family so it traditionally takes place in the bride’s home (hotels or marriage halls); tents may be set up to accommodate guests. The place is suitably and auspiciously decorated with lights for the festive occasion. The bridegroom starts out from his home in a form of procession on cars (traditionally on a decorated horse to the music of shenai (a shrill flute) and dholak (drums) with his family and friends. They are greeted by the bride’s family with flowers garland and rose petals.
What happens at reception of barat? It is customary for the bride’s sisters and friends to stop the barat from entering the arena until a sufficient amount of cash is given to them. Other traditional rasams include doodh pilai (milk drinking), jooti chupai (hiding shoes). The bride traditionally wears a heavily embroidered red outfit along with jewelry while the groom wears sherwani with a sehra or turban. Food, sweets, pans are served afterwards in feast.
Rukhsati (see off ceremony) takes place, when the groom and his family leave together with the bride. Usually Quran is held over the bride for blessings. The departure of the bride becomes a very emotional scene as she says farewell to the home of her parents and siblings to start a new married life.
At groom home (welcoming ceremony) – Upon arrival at home of groom the traditionally the eldest female members of the family welcome the grooms with prayers, a typical job to do is using water utensil revolving around the heads of bride and grooms.
Valima (feast dinner) is the final day of wedding celebrated at the house of the bridegroom. It mainly consists of a feast dinner. The bride wears dress and jewelry provided by the groom’s family.