The wedding day is special one in everyone's life and has its distinct importance in all traditions and societies. The rituals of wedding do vary with regard to regional and cultural differences and we have the most unique of wedding ceremonies in the world. In the western social order, marriage has lost its significance in comparison with the Pakistani society, where Islamic and eastern values combine to greatly esteem the person’s marital status. Marriage is an agreement between two man and woman who pledge to spend rest of their lives together to raise the next generation. Allah Almighty says in the glorious Quran,
“The (wives) are fabric for you and you are fabric for them”.
There could be no better example that a fabric that secures from climatic harshness and provides a screen against the immodest nature of the society. The level of expenditures on marriages is different regarding the financial status of the families but nowadays, people literally compete with each other to show their dominance in terms of extravagance and lavishness. Firstly, the groom’s family takes the proposal to bride’s family, on acceptance both the families share sweets as a gesture of happiness. The rituals of marriage begin from Mayoon.
Mayoon: Mayoon is a wedding formality taken from Hindu tradition. Bride wears a yellow dress; then a customary and herbal cosmetic substance “Ubtan” is applied to her face and hands in order to exfoliate her skin to glow. Bride’s friends and family wear yellow dresses and dance on nuptial songs.
The rite of Henna or Mehndi: Henna or Mehndi has observable value in Islamic and eastern lifestyle. Beautiful motifs are drawn on bride’s hands and groom’s family sends valuable gifts for the bride including the bridal dress, jewelry, makeup set, perfumes, dry fruits, footwear and sweets etc. Known as “Bari”. Moreover, girls sing nuptial songs and dance in groups. Guests are served with traditional cuisine. Once this ceremony used to be observed at homes but now a days, people reserve marriage halls, reception halls and ballrooms at hotels to celebrate.
The Day of Wedding or Nikah: Then the most auspicious day of wedding or Nikah arrives. Frequently brides wear red celebratory dresses mostly embroidered with pearls and golden or silver patterns of silk or georgette thread and embellishment through fanciful handwork. In the urban areas, usually bridal dresses also accompany scintillating shararahs, ghararahs, fitting pajamas and mantuas along with scarf. Fascinating jewelry, necklaces, bangles and ornaments are part of this dress. Groom also wears a special dress for the occasion. Usually a “sherwani” with tapestries and headwear festoon commonly known as “sehra” are the major components of the groom’s costume.
The marriage is solemnized after reciting the Nikah sermon in the presence of the cleric “qazi”, two witnesses and friends and relatives. Marriage portion is also agreed upon by the elders of both families which binds the groom to pay her bride. Both groom and bride sign the Nikah document and thus legally declared husband and wife. People attending the ceremony; greet the newlywed couple with good wishes. Dry-dates are distributed. At the time of valediction, the bride shed tears and joins her life partner to begin a new journey of life.
Valima “The Wedding Feast”: The groom invites people for extensive meal after the Nikah. Valima is last service in marriage endorsed by Islam and is also important in our social existence. Specially tailored dresses are worn by the newlywed couple. Invitees also bring presents for the couple. Pakistan is a country exuberated by rich experience of deep cultural diversity along with regional and linguistic backgrounds. Let’s describe the wedding rites of people living in the four provinces of Pakistan.
Pashton Wedding: After appointing a specific date for the marriage, an exclusive ritual is observed called “Siyakhni”. It’s a musical custom celebrated for several nights before the conventional wedding practices. The lyrics of songs congratulate the couple. Bride is made to stay in the room secluded by sheets around her place of sitting. The day that proceeds to the night of mehndi, a cow or buffalo is slaughtered to prepare meal for the guests. Mehndi is taken by the groom’s family to the bride’s along with a range of presents, the custom is known as “Bal”. Groom wears traditional shalwar kameez, waistcoat, Peshawari chappal and sehra while bride’s red dress encompasses bespangled and festooned frock with handiwork complemented by shalwar. Her makeup and jewelry is also an important feature of her wear. Mostly marriages here are celebrated during daytime. After bride leaves with her groom for the new home, the procession stops few steps in front of groom’s house. Groom carry’s his bride into the house, this unique ritual is known as “Dehleez Par”. Nikah is usually held after Isha prayer and groom invites people for valima on the third day.
Baloch Wedding: The Balochi wedding ceremonial practices are quite different; it takes seven days for the marriage to conclude. “Qilla” is a particular arrangrement for the bride to stay in the room for two days accompanied by her friends. She is attentively looked after and cared. Mehndi takes more time than usual; a day is for the groom’s sisters and their friends to take mehndi to bride’s home and another day is for bride’s sisters and their friends to visit groom’s house. Nikah is performed at bride’s house and then the couple is made to sit together in order to gently nudge their heads for seven times. Seventh day is the time for valediction when bride wears the wedding dress ornamented with jewelry and makeup. After she arrives at her new home, relatives and friends pay their congratulatory visits for few days. The very next day, guests receive invitation for Valima where traditional Balochi delicacies are served.
Punjabi Wedding: Punjabi marriages are the rich depiction of Punjab culture. “Mungni” is a pre-marriage celebration when girl’s name is solemnly associated with the man. A musical custom is carried out for several days where drums are used for friends and relatives of the couple to sing and dance. The mehndi is celebrated with great fervor by both the families afterwards bride’s hands and feet are decorated with motifs of henna. The night next to mehndi, groom’s head is tied with a colorful sehra. After the Nikah, bride’s sisters take away groom’s shoe and never return until he agrees to pay them an incentive amount. At the valediction, the bride is taken to her new home by little (doli). The valima banquet is held the very next day where guests, relatives and friends of the couple are invited.
Sindhi Wedding: A particular sweet called “Misri” is sent to bride and groom, a gift that expresses harmony between them afterwards, mehndi is celebrated with great fervor. A special ritual of “sanhh” is prevalent in Sindh in which seven women apply oil in bride’s hair. Another custom is “Sagary” in which bride is showered with rose petals. Then married sisters of groom adorn the bride with ornaments made of lavender leaves and let her grind wheat as a gesture of prosperity. Then it comes to applying Ubtan or turmeric on to the hands of bride and groom. Groom’s sisters and paternal aunts sing and tie the sehra around his head. Nikah is held at bride’s home, marriage portion is agreed upon and bride leaves home with her soul mate in the traditional bridal dress. Few rituals are observed at groom’s house. The couple is made to see each other in the mirror known as “Arsi Mashaf” and both of them also drink milk in one glass. An extended meal is served on the next day attended by guests, friends and relatives.