The Islamic nation of Pakistan is a fusion of both Muslim and Hindu culture, and when it comes to tying the knot, the wedding ceremonies and celebrations are filled with cultural and religious traditions accompanied by the most exotic feasts.
The engagement is a tradition of its own, and once a Pakistani couple has made the decision to wed, there will be an intimate ceremony, “mangni” where the closest and most important members of the families will gather. During this ceremony, there will be a recitation of prayers and blessings for the couple, and the date of the wedding will finally be set. The engagement will also be the last time that the groom will see the bride, until day three of their four-day wedding ceremony.
The next stage is known as “mayun,” where the bride is to remain secluded for eight to fifteen days. During this time the bride begins her “beautification rituals” and is relieved of daily responsibilities. It is imperative that the bride and groom do not see one another during “mayun.”
One of the rituals during “mayun” involves the use of “ubtan” which is applied to the bride’s hands and face by her mother, who ties a thick string, “gana” to the bride’s arm. “Ubtan” is a paste made up of sandalwood powder, herbs, aromatic oils, and turmeric. The paste is applied each day leading up to the wedding as part of the rituals. The groom undergoes a similar ritual, where relatives and friends of the bride, bring “ubtan” to him to rub onto his skin.
The first day of the wedding sees the two families celebrating separately and family members of both the bride and groom dress in yellow. On this day they take part in the wedding rituals separately within their homes. A “dholki” party is held for the bride, and she is brought in to celebrate by her brothers, sisters, and cousins. They sing traditional wedding songs together, accompanied by instruments, including the “dholki,” of course.
On the second day, the groom’s family will present the wedding dress to the bride’s family, and they will then make a formal announcement for their daughter’s wedding and decorate the home with lights on this special day. This is also the same day on which the henna party, “Rasm E Mehndi” takes place. It is attended mostly by females who apply the mehndi to the bride’s hands and celebrate with more dancing and singing!
The actual wedding ceremony which involves the marriage contract is held on the third day and is known as “nikah.” On this occasion, both the bride and groom will be dressed in red, and the bride’s face will remain covered with a veil.
“Mooh Dikhai” takes place following the “nikah” and the bride will then reveal her face to the groom for the first time as his wife. The couple looks at one another in the mirror, and this is when the bride unveils. The couple then shares a sweet fruit, usually a date. The wedding reception and its vibrant celebrations are held on the fourth day.
The wedding reception and its vibrant celebrations are held on the fourth and final day!