Colorful Indian Marriage Customs
A Muslim Marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman if…
… they are legally competent to make such a contract.
You need no Imam, no Wali, no writing, no marriage certificate and even no witnesses in view of some scholars. It is just proposal making and the acceptance of the proposal with Mahr that completes a Muslim marriage contract. But practically, it does not happen this simple way.
The reasons are not limited to modern social complexities and legal issued involved.
Muslims are spread in every part of the world. The Muslim families have accepted different local traditions with or without minor changes for marriage purposes. Most of such marriage customs are not against the basic principles of Islam. On the other hand they can’t be termed as Islamic marriage ceremonies. That’s why you can describe such traditions in reference with to the geographically areas like Indian marriage customs, Pakistani marriage rituals, Chinese marriage cultures, Arab marriage traditions etc.
The marriage customs in Muslims have some common features like proposal, acceptance, Imam, witnesses, banquet etc. However, different countries have their special flavors. India is bonanza of cultures so you can find different marriage customs in Indian Muslim families in different areas. Here you shall find a few common Indian marriage customs:
Presence of Peoples
Generally no marriage in India and Pakistan, regardless of religion, is accepted when conducted in absence of people, relatives and friends. Social interaction is main element of Indian Marriage customs. You are supposed to invite your close relatives, friends and neighbors in your marriages. And if you forgot some of the names you can miss their company forever.
Most of the Muslim jurists and scholars are convinced that a valid marriage needs at least two independent witnesses. Such marriage gatherings not only provide an opportunity to enjoy the event but also meet the legal duty. Some Muslim scholars think that a valid Muslim marriage may be conducted without witnesses but they also agree that the marriage must be announced. In Indian marriage customs the marriage is automatically announced.
Proposal and Acceptance by Families
Principally, a proposal should be made by a marriage partner and be accepted by the other.
However, in Pakistani and Indian marriage customs, the proposal is made by the family of bridegroom and accepted by the family of the bride. In some classical situations even the marriage partners may not be consulted even. But now, in most of the cases the marriage partners decide their future in family functions, on matrimonial websites or at workplace and then they ask their parents to arrange their marriage. At least the elders of the families try to get consent of the marriage partners before making or accepting a proposal.
The parents of the boy approach to the family of the bride to propose the marriage. Once the proposal is accepted a mutual relationship of the families start with.
Engagement and other Ceremonies
The engagement ceremony is called ‘Mangni’ in Indian marriage cultures. The Mangni or engagement ceremony is an exchange of rings. The dress and ornaments for the bride is given by the Groom’s family. But the engagement has no legal effects. Other famous Islamic marriage ceremonies are Manjha, Mehndi, marriage procession, Nikah and Valima etc.
Dhood Pilai is one of the most popular Indian marriage customs. When the bridegroom goes to the bride place with a procession (barat), a sister or a cousin of the bride gives him a glass of milk to drink. The bridegroom can’t refuse. Once he finishes the sister of the bride asks for money/gift. The bridegroom is supposed to pay with a heavy amount. In some cases the father of the bridegroom has to pay for the ‘Dhood Pilai’
Another popular Indian marriage custom relates to shoes of the bridegroom. If you are going to be married in India or Pakistan, your elders and friends shall tell you to be watchful about your shoes while you take marriage procession (barat) to your bride’s home. Bride’s sisters and friends try to steal your shoes and demand money to return them. It involves a lot of sweet and hot talks and finally you shall have to pay a heavy amount to get your shoes back.
Recently, I attended a marriage. The bridegroom was clever enough to wear a pair of shoes and take another secretly. When his shoes were stolen he got out the hidden shoes to avoid paying the money. The friends of the bride didn’t press for money. However, they refused him to enter ladies section until he paid a bigger amount.
Moral of the story is that Indian marriage customs are brightly colorful. Whether you are participating as a guest, as a family member or a marriage partner, don’t avoid these colorful traditions. With the passage of time, these small events shall become the most memorable past.