The Essential Guide to Mughal Weddings: Wedding Traditions

2013 Oct 28 - by Shriya
Because the Persian Empire was so vast, its wedding traditions are a combination of many modern-day wedding rituals. The Mughals were predominantly Muslims, and thus their wedding rituals are derived from Islamic traditions.

Before we go on, welcome to Part III of our Mughal Wedding Series:

Mughal Wedding: Introduction

Mughal Engagement/Pre-Wedding Traditions

Mughal Wedding Traditions - You're here!

Mughal Post-Wedding Traditions

Mughal Bridal Attire and Jewelry

Mughal Groom's Attire

Mughal Food and Desserts

Mughal Modern Touches & Inspiration

The pre-wedding rituals include some modern Hindu rituals as well - such as the mehendi and haldi ceremonies. The Islamic term for marriage, nikah, originated from the traditions followed by the Mughals.

The day of the wedding is just as lavish as the extensive engagement ceremonies that precede it. The groom has his wedding procession, the baraat, which is his grand entrance to the wedding venue. He brings with him the daala - which are gifts of clothing and jewelry from his family to the bride.

The wedding ceremony is officiated by a priest, or qazi. The fathers of both the bride and the groom are both heavily involved in the ceremony - they serve as the legal representatives, the walid. In addition, senior members of the family would officially agree on the mehar, or financial endowment, paid by the bridegroom to the bride's family. (Quite different from Hindu traditions of brides' families paying dowry!)

Once these legal matters are settled, the qazi makes the bride and groom sign a marriage contract known as a nikah-nama. It is also signed by the walid and other family witnesses.

After verses from the Quran are read and martial responsibilities are agreed upon, the bride and groom are officially married and receive blessings while they pray together. The acceptance of these verses is called the Ijab-e-Qubul.

An interesting wedding tradition in Mughal, and now Muslim, culture is the concept of gender-segregation at the ceremony. The men and women sit on opposite sides of the venue, while the bride and groom are only allowed to view each other through a mirror (aarsimashaf)  until all the rituals have been completed.

Even the delicious Mughlai dinner ceremony is segregated, and the bride and groom were only allowed to sit near each other for post-dinner prayers read by the qazi.

The marriage ceremony ends with the bride's farewell to her family - the ruksati. Religious families would often leave the bride with a gift of the Quran.

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