May 18th, 2010 |
Finally, the one you’ve all been waiting for! The climax of Pakistani marriage celebrations is the day of the Shaadi, the one day that has parallels in most cultures in the world. After this day it will both be socially and religiously acceptable for the bride and groom to be in seclusion in one another, the day where they officially become man and wife.
Previous posts (for relevance, in case you missed them!)
Courtship and Marriage in Pakistan
The Dholki and the Mayoon
The wedding, or Shaadi, usually consists of 3 major parts. The Baraat, where the family of the groom arrives at the wedding hall, the Nikah, which is the signing of the marriage contract, and finally the Rukhsati where the bride and groom leave together. In between, you will have dinner, entertainment and various rasms (customs). This function will be hosted by the bride’s family.
I mentioned in my earlier post that wedding celebrations are held such that the bride is considered a member of her childhood home until her Rukhsati, after which she will leave her home and join her groom’s. While this is only a cultural distinction, the wedding day as understandably a very emotional one for the bride and her close relatives. And it is not uncommon for it to end on a sorrowful note.
And something you may have noted in the previous posts, the photos here are from a mixture of weddings.
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It is never difficult to know which houses in a community will soon be celebrating a wedding. Weeks in advance, they will decorate them with lights. Pretty!
Weddings usually take place in large halls, with guests numbering in the hundreds. Food will be served at some point in the wedding (after the Nikah usually).
The bride and her family will usually arrive at the venue well before the groom to make sure they throw a big welcome for the baraat (groom's family) when they get there. Necklaces of flowers are prepared. Interestingly, no one really likes wearing these... and most on the receiving end (including the groom!) will take them off immediately, making these just one of those traditions that *really* needs to be killed off !
Shaadis are now a mix of both the traditional and the new(ish!).
Though she arrives first, the bride will usually wait in a back room of the wedding hall until the groom and the baraat arrives. The yellows and greens of the previous week are shed for the red of the wedding, and the bride is usually adorned in (a lot!) of jewelry! I sense bank balances edging lower : P
This first part of a wedding refers to the arrival of the groom’s family to the wedding hall. The family would first gather at a rendezvous point, usually outside the groom’s house and set out at the same time to make sure they arrive together.
In the olden times, the groom would gallantly arrive astride a white horse. In modern times, due to practicality reasons, cars are used. You see, horses don't really make good time on highways... excellent mileage though ;P
On the wedding day, the groom will usually be wearing a white 'sherwani' (Pakistan's cultural equivalent of a suit) which will have to withstand an onslaught of flowers threatening to leave marks!
In addition to the turban, the groom will also (traditionally) wear a sehra. The sehra is a headdress, usually made out of a curtain of flowers. The groom will keep this on until the time of the Nikah. Given the difficulty keeping things classy (no matter how you look at it, a bunch of flowers coming out a dude's head is kinda fruity ;P) the practice is slowly dying out. Instead, other types of sehras (see above) are used. In many cases, they're left out altogether.
As a groom, it's a given fact in Pakistani weddings. You *will* receive a wristwatch. Already own a good one? Doesn't matter. You *will* be gifted a wristwatch. And it will be a great photo-op because they'll make you take your old one-off and put on the new one. Once the groom is seated, it is customary for family members of the bride to give him gifts and money. This is called 'Salami', not to be confused by a fatty meat sausage by the same name.
The marriage is only Islamically (and legally) recognized after the Nikah is completed and the contracts signed. As mentioned in the post about courtship, Nikahs will sometimes take place before the actual wedding day meaning this part will be left out during the Shaadi.
The process of the Nikah involves the bride saying "Qubool hai" (I accept) 3 times in front of witnesses. The groom will then do the same. And they will then officially be man and wife. Note: Despite parallels with western weddings, there will be NO kissing of the bride... ;P Traditionally, the bride and the groom will sit separate before the Nikah and are only presented together after the marriage is official. There however is little reason why they can't be together (as they are in public, after all).
The marriage is official once the bride and groom have signed the contract (along with the Islamic witnesses). Only for the final signing will the groom remove his sehra (if he's wearing one). Hmmm... doesn't this just make bait and switch tactics easier?
The exchanging of rings is not an Islamic practice. However, it is difficult to argue with the fact that in modern times, it is the universal indication of a married couple. As such, after the Nikah, the couple will exchange wedding rings to "seal the deal" culturally!
After the Nikah, goodies, wrapped in cloth packets will be distributed. Among other things like candies, they will contain 'chuaras'. A chuara is a dry fruit, very similar to a date, and is passed on to guests as a sign of happiness.
Rasms… and Dancing!
The main order of business completed, the rest of the evening is devoted to having fun.A number of customs need to be fulfilled, guests need to be fed and a LOT of dancing needs to be done. (Not all families do the dancing bit!)
Probably the most recognized rasm is that of Joota Churai or "shoe stealing". The bride's sister, usually in the guise of a photo-op, will slip off the groom's shoes. The girl's side will then demand a (usually huge, for fun!) sum of money to return it. The groom and his family will then attempt to negotiate down the price before settling on a "fair" trade. In this case, the groom's brother opted for a more conventional way of retrieving the shoe ;P Though few Pakistanis may know this, this rasm comes from an old Hindu belief that the bride's sister's touching the groom's feet will ward off evil spirits.
Another rasm is called 'Dood Pilai' or 'Drinking of the milk'. The bride's sister will bring the couple a (fancy!) cup of milk which they will share. In exchange, she will ask for money. In an effort not to let the groom go completely broke, this rasm will sometimes be combined with the Joota Churai (she steals the shoe while giving him the milk!), and the payment is made together! (Photo credit goes to 'Silsila' on paklinks.com)
Another rasm, is called the 'Darwaza Pakrai' (blocking of the door). This one will normally take place while the groom is entering the wedding hall. The bride's sister (isn't SHE a popular evil woman ;P) will block the path of the groom. Not letting him pass until he pays the toll. Variations of this will be that she will sit beside the groom before the bride can and refuse to get up and let him sit with his betrothed until a payment is made. For the poor groom, the night is hardly over, as his own sisters will perform a similar act before letting him see his bride in their nuptial room later that night.. oh the frustration!! (Photo credits go to: Amna Hakim, from Toronto)
It's not all about cash! For entertainment, both the girls and guys will put on dancing shows. Some very choreographed...
... and others... not so choreographed! There are no real rules to bhangra dancing. And you will find people jumping around wildly (I'm admittedly a spasmer) and climbing onto each other's shoulders.
The bride and groom might have their moments too...
And yet all good things must come to an end. To complete the play, the wedding storyline in Pakistani weddings entails the groom’s family will now “take away” the bride from her home. In the olden times, this was a very sad time, given that groom’s used to travel from afar and take brides back to their own villages. Now, the end of the wedding is hardly a physical goodbye, however, the sadness is still there due to the cultural equivalent of losing a member of the family.
The bride and groom will be led out of the hall in a procession. A Quran will be held over the bride's head to bless her as she leaves her home behind.
It is decidedly difficult time for the bride's family.
More often than not however, it's all about the smiles : ) This is the beginning of a new life together. It's back to the groom's family's from here!
Mun Dikhai, Suhaag Raat
The celebrations are not over for the groom’s family, and on returning to the groom’s house there will be a gathering of close family members. “Mun Dikhai” literally means ‘Showing of the face” where the family will congratulate the couple and offer gifts.
After this, the couple will celebrate the Suhaag Raat… which.. umm.. it is left as an exercise to the reader to research ;P
Next: The happy couple returns! (Walima)
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