A Muslim marriage is referred to as Nikaah. It is a beautiful contract between the bride and the groom to spend the rest of their lives together. A typical Muslim marriage is characterized by much color and gaiety. Men and women dressed in their traditional attire gather together to celebrate the wedding with much zeal and enthusiasm.
The mehendi ceremony inaugurates the Muslim wedding. This event takes place at the house of the bride wherein the hands and feet of the bride and the other female members of the house are adorned with beautiful henna patterns. Turmeric paste is also applied on the face, hands and feet of the bride. After this ceremony the bride should not step out of the house till the wedding day. This event starts the wedding festivities. The ladies of the house sing traditional wedding songs and there is much fun and excitement.
Similar to other Indian marriages the wedding venue is the house of the bride where the groom arrives on the wedding day with his family and friends. They are welcomed amidst much teasing and banter by the relations of the bride. The bride is usually decked in the clothes and jewelry that had been sent to her by the groom's family. The bridegroom on the other hand wears a sherwani and a topi.
The actual wedding ceremony is referred to as Nikaah. The bride and the groom are kept in separate rooms and there is a curtain that separates the two. The walis, the fathers of the bride and the groom play an important role in a Muslim wedding. The wedding is conducted by a maulvi (priest) who reads passages from the holy Quran to solemnize the marriage. The assent of both the groom and the bride is taken and is registered in the Nikaahnama which is the sacred marriage document. This is later signed by the groom and the bride.
After this the groom is blessed by the elderly ladies present there and the guests pray for the happy married life of the newly weds. This is followed by a sumptuous meal. The ladies and the gentlemen are served separately. The maulvi places the Quran between the couples and they can see each other only through mirrors. The bride next leaves for her new home where she looks forward to begin her new life. Valimah is the grand reception that is hosted by the groom's family. This serves to bring both the families together and is a joyous occasion.
Marriage is both a social necessity as well as a religious duty in Islam. A great emphasis is thus laid on the social as well as the religious dimensions of the ceremony. A typical Muslim marriage is a grand affair that extends to four or five days. The nikaah can be conducted at any convenient time and venue. The family and friends of the bride and groom come together to make the marriage a truly joyous occasion