Ain & Hafsa : Kashmiri Muslim Wedding at Srinagar
My fascination for Muslim Weddings, the colourful and vibrant wedding dresses and the beautiful things associated with it grew with the celluloid movies featuring the concept of “Nikah”. But to my major disappointment, there are very less features, photographs and articles about the detailed functions of a Muslim Wedding. When I got the chance to write the blog story of this beautiful Muslim Kashmiri wedding featuring Ain and Hafsa shot in Srinagar by Anupam, Prasad and Sunny last year, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to fathom out the customs and rituals in a Muslim Wedding.
Ain and Hafsa, just celebrated their first anniversary on 9th October 2016. They first met while they studied together in BITS Pilani and then decided to take the plunge with the blessings and wishes of their families and loved ones. The Nikah (wedding) happened in Srinagar and the Walima (Reception) took place in Patna. Here we bring out the glimpses and stories of their special days in our documentary approach.
Mehendi, is an important ritual in the Kashmiri Muslim wedding and the wedding started with Hafsa’s sisters, cousins and friends bringing the Mehendi for her. A round tray called “Majmaa” was decorated with a bowl filled with mehendi paste, surrounded by other decorative stuff. The gang of girls who brought the mehendi for Hafsa were the first ones to apply on her before the professional artist took over to create a beautiful masterpiece. As the function proceeded, the ladies sang the traditional Kashmiri folk and the wedding songs. Thereafter, trinkets like bangles, earrings and ribbons were distributed among the young girls present at the ceremony by the bride’s side.
Aab Shehrun is a function which happens right before the bride dons the bridal outfit. On the wedding day morning, the Kashmiri bride takes a ritual bath and wears a traditional Kashmiri outfit called the “Pheran” which is basically a loose and long shirt with tilla embroidery (done by artisans with real gold and silver thread by hand). The make up of the Bride was done by her own sister as you will see in the photographs. A raised seating area is set up for the bride at the centre of the hall called the “Masnand”, and the part of the wedding is called “Masnandishini” as the bride is made to sit on the masnand. The peculiar feature about Kashmiri wedding is that men and women are seated in different halls. A special feast called the “Wazwaan” is served. Its preparation is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture and identity. Almost all the dishes are meat-based using lamb or chicken. As per the traditions, the guests gift the bride with either cash or gold. Post lunch, many people leave while close friends and relatives stay back for the Nikah.
Baarat and Nikah
In the evening, the Baraat arrived sans the singing and dancing. Again, the women folk gathered and sang welcoming songs for the baraat, and greeted the groom’s family with garlands, flowers and petals. Drapes/curtains were set up to partition the hall into two to maintain two separate areas for men and women. The Bride sat for her Nikah without any make up and after performing ablution or “Wudhu”, which is a ritual cleansing performed before any act of worship by the Muslims. Hafsa wore a pink coloured and golden embellished lehenga choosing striking long neckpieces, mangtika and jhumkas, all giving a gorgeous look to the bride. The Groom also performed the Wudhu. Thereafter, once the baraat (comprising entirely of men) was seated, the bride and the ladies took their seats on the other side of the drapes.The Maulvi (priest) who conducts the ceremony first gave a Khutbah (sermon) highlighting the importance of marriage and the kind of conduct expected from the newly weds towards each other. After that, the Maulvi consulted both the parties about the “Mehr”. Mehr is the sum of money/gold/wealth of any kind which the groom is supposed to give the Bride as the wedding gift. It is interesting to know here that no muslim wedding can be performed without the Mehr, obviously the amount varies according to people’s status and decided as per mutual understanding. Once the Mehr got decided, the Maulvi asked the bride if she is okay with the amount of Mehr. After her approval, she is told the name of her groom, his parentage, residence, and the mehr amount, and finally her will to marry the groom. The same exercise was repeated with the groom. Once both mutually consented three times, they were declared as Husband and Wife. Thereafter, they proceeded to sign the Nikah-nama, which is basically the marriage contract and the details of the bride and groom as mentioned above. It was also signed by two witnesses on each on the groom’s and bride’s side. After the ceremony, the Baraat had dinner (once more, Wazwaan). There were photos, excited people and the couple cherishing the moment forever. And finally, The bride left along with the Baraat amidst more wedding songs being sung by the ladies of the house. The bidaai ceremony is known as ‘Rukhsat’.
The second part of the wedding, which is the reception, is known as “Walima”. Green was the Prophet Muhammad’s favorite color and it is considered auspicious to wear green by the bride for their wedding functions. Hafsa got ready in her beautiful bridal green heavy zari work bridal lehenga adorning herself with golden jhoomer, jhumkas and three sets of gold bridal necklaces. Hafsa was brought to the wedding hall by Ain and his sisters, where the guests had started gathering. The sisters looked stunning in their colour coordinated lehenga and we took some twirling shots and made them happy.
It was one of the most unique experiences covering a Kashmiri wedding for the first time for the entire team and we thank Ain and Hafsa in trusting us. We hope you liked the photographs and it will give you a good insight into a typical Kashmiri wedding. Let us know your thoughts in comments below.