You’ll find that the aura at any Indian Muslim Wedding is always colourful, bright and has a certain poetic feel of being in the presence of holiness and age old traditions that mark new beginnings for the happy couple. Goan Muslim Weddings are no different, well, apart from incorporating our special local flair, cuisine and culture.
Here we present the beautiful traditions followed on the occasion of a Muslim wedding in Goa and shed light on the importance of each step and its symbolism.
‘Salatul-Ishtakara’ in Arabic literally translates to ‘prayer to seek that which is good’ and is the first step before the couple begin the wedding rituals. This prayer is done by an Islamic priest or ‘Maulana/Imam’ to seek blessings for the couple and their families before the wedding and also officially announce the occasion between the community.
The engagement ceremony marks the official union of the to-be bride and groom and their families. This is an important event before the wedding day and is celebrated with almost equal pomp and splendor with a shower of blessings and exchange of gifts from either side of the wedding parties.
The ‘Manjha’ or more popularly known as ‘Haldi’ ceremony marks the first day of wedding festivities for the couple. On this day, traditionally, the to-be-groom’s family sends the ‘haldi’ to the to-be-brides home for this ceremony. Both the to-be-bride and groom dress in yellow and get anointed with a turmeric paste often mixed with rose water, sandalwood, gram flour and milk that helps purify and cleanse the body and also, of course, help with the pre-wedding glow! This is also one such tradition that is borrowed from the Indian culture, where in case of Hindu weddings we have ‘Haldi’ itself and for Catholic weddings in Goa we have ‘Roce’.
MEHENDI & SHUKHRANA
We have the most anticipated of the pre-wedding rituals on day two, the ‘Mehendi’ ceremony. On this day the colour theme is traditionally green and the bride-to-be has beautifully designed ‘henna’ or ‘mehendi’ applied to their hands and feet with her groom’s initials hidden in the design. The bride’s female relatives and friends join in on this ritual and have ‘mehendi’ applied together.
On this auspicious day, the groom’s family visits the bride’s home with gifts including sweets, a bridal outfit with accessories and jewellery. This also signifies blessings, affection and support of the groom’s family on the event of coming close to welcoming the new bride into their home. This is all part of the tradition depicting family values, gratitude and connections called ‘Shukhrana’. On the other end, the bride’s female relatives also go to the grooms home and attempt to forcibly to put ‘mehendi’ on the groom’s hands with the hopes of receiving money or gifts if successful.
NIKAAH – WEDDING DAY
The day we celebrate love and traditions at its peak finally arrives! On the day of the ‘Nikaah’ the families arrive at the common venue and are seated separately, the women along with the bride on one end and the men along with the groom on another. A ‘Moulana/Imam’ is invited to conduct the prayers and rituals of the ‘Nikaah’ that is done with a curtain or ‘pardah’ separating the two sides. The couple is officially announced to be in wedlock when the bride and groom respond with ‘I agree’ or ‘QuboolHai’ thrice. After this, there’s a final ritual of ‘ArsiMushaf’ where the bride and groom finally look at each other through a mirror kept between them. Here, ‘Arsi’ means mirror and ‘Mushaf’ means the Holy Quran. A tradition called ‘Mehr’ is also done where the groom’s father offers his new daughter-in-law money as blessings.
At the end of the day as a post – wedding ritual of ‘Rukhsati’ or more popularly called ‘Bidaai’ the bride is bid farewell with blessings by her parents and warmly welcomed into her new home with her husband by her in laws, who place the Holy Quran on the bride’s head to symbolise her duties as a wife.
Arabic for wedding banquet, ‘Walimah’, is essentially the lavish reception that the groom’s family hosts after the ‘Nikaah’. It is a more relaxed, fun and joyous occasion that brings the two families, relatives and their friends together with a lot of indulgent food, upbeat music and merry dancing. Prominent Goan touches to the whole event are seen in the choice of local homegrown music, and cuisine such as the local ‘Goan Roast Beef’ and ‘Mutton Xacuti’ along with the traditional Indian favorites – ‘Biryani’ and the sweet dish ‘Sevaiyan’ made with vermicelli noodles and milk. This function marks the end to a big fat Indian wedding, and is essentially a celebratory start to the couple’s new life.
The festivities come to a gradual but happy end with ‘Jummaghi’ starting on the fifth day of the ‘Nikaah’ that is essentially held on a Friday and needs to continue for five weeks, out of which the first three ‘Jummaghi’ will be hosted by the bride’s family and the next two by the grooms family. The first function held at the brides parents’ home and the last one held at the grooms parents’ home hold the most importance with the celebrations being the happiest with fun games such as throwing coconuts received as gifts during the previous ceremonies into water, having the newlyweds un-tie turmeric from each other’s hands or even having the brides female relatives steal the groom’s shoes and bid for them!
Fridays or ‘Jummah’ in Arabic, are picked for these functions since it is considered the most holy day of the week for all Muslims. These functions are where the newlyweds are welcomed into each other’s homes and are met with a grand welcome, more blessings and a more intimate party.
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