Muslim Weddings

Muslim Wedding

Muslim weddings cover a large global geographical area ranging from the Indian Sub-continent through to the Middle East, Africa, Far East, North America and Europe.

Each community has its own traditions and customs. In Britain, the dominant Islamic culture is that of the Indian Sub-continent, although some African communities such as that from Somalia are now also a significant group.

Muslim wedding are celebrated on a grand scale throughout Britain. The wedding is divided into various sections starting with the engagement, through to the Henna/Mehndi ceremony, the main day which comprises of the Nikah and the Walima.

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Henna/Mehndi Ceremony

The Mehndi ceremony takes place at the bride and grooms house separately and on separate days. The groom’s family bring the henna and sweetmeats for the bride-to-be and her family and friends. The favour is then returned by the bride family. On both occasions, henna is placed on the hands, followed by fragrant oil for the hair and a small gift of money is then given by family members and guests. In some families, turmeric paste is applied to both the groom and the bride, to beautify the couple and aid in the glowing of complexions.

Elaborate and artistic henna patterns are applied to the hands and feet of the bride-to-be. Female members and friends apply the patterns to celebrate the occasion. The bride-to-be is almost always dressed in yellow or light colours. The henna ceremony is full of music and dance with singing and the playing of the dholki.

Main Ceremony

The main ceremony comprises of the Nikah, which is a religious ceremony carried out by an Islamic cleric (maulvi). The Nikah is hosted by the Bride’s family with the arrival of the Groom to the Bride’s house or venue. The Broom’s arrival is known as the Baraat. In the South Asian tradition, the Baraat is preceded by musicians to announce the arrival. The Groom is offered cool flavoured drinks that he shares with his future father and brother-in-laws.


The Nikah is the most significant and important part of the ceremony. The ceremony is carried out by the ‘Maulvi’ who’s duty it is to ask the Bride and Groom, separately or together, their consent to marry. Without their mutual consent, the Nikah cannot take place and blessed. A compulsory ‘Mehar’ (amount of money allocated to the Bride from the Groom), is announced to the witnesses and agreed by the Bride family. This is set out in the Nikahnaama, (certificate of marriage) and contains the terms and conditions of the marriage. The document has to be singed by both parties, including the Bride and Groom and their witnesses.

After a short prayer blessing the Bride and Groom, the guests are served dinner.

The Taking of the Groom’s Shoes

An ancient South Asian tradition of taking and hiding of the Grooms shoes by the bride sisters and cousin sisters adds fun and laughter to the ceremony. The Groom has to pay an acceptable amount of money to each sister and cousin sister before his confiscated shoes is returned to him. .

Rukhsaati (the leaving of the Bride)

Rukhsaati of the Bride is the emotional highlight of the day where the Bride embraces close family members and friends. Brothers of the Bride assist her into the leaving vehicle, and help to push the car forward, a significant gesture to celebrate the ancient tradition of brothers (cousins included) would carry part of the way the palanquin in which the Bride would sit to travel to her new home.

Welcoming the Bride

Upon reaching her husband’s house, she is greeted by her mother-in-law and female relatives. A copy of the Quran is held over the head as she crosses the threshold into her new home.

Oil is poured over the threshold by the mother-in-law to mark the occasion.

Chauthi – the Fourth Day

On the fourth day or the Chauthi, the Bride will visit her parent’s home with her husband and is given a small party to celebrate the occasion.

Walima or Reception Ceremony

The Walima is the last ceremony to complete the marriage celebrations. It is a large party or reception given by the groom’s family inviting the Bride’s side and friends of the bridge. Opportunities are taken by both the Bride’s and Groom’s side to meet with relatives and friends of both families. Traditionally, gifts or money is given to the Groom by the guests, including the Bride’s family and friends.

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