being used.Negotiation starts after initiation through intermediaries and friends, and when concurrence has beenreached in settlement , they become more and more defined and details are discussed and a day fixed for the final settlement.It is the bridegroom's party that takes the initiative and makes the proposal for the marriage. But nowdays,the bride's party takes the initiative and makes the proposal for the marriage.As in initiation, so in negotiations, elderly ladies, mutual friends and close relatives play prominent role.Apart from them, a unique personality known as Mushatta was accustomed to play a great role in themarriage negotiations. A Mushatta is a working woman visiting well-to-do families to help young girls tocomplete their toilet, etc. Because of their close associations and unchallenged access to differentfamilies and mixing with them, they used to gain close and deep knowledge of the status of the differentfamilies, the character of the individuals and their behaviour.
The wedding dress for the girl includes a Sharara, which is a long following skirt and blouse. There is adupatta to cover the head. The groom wears a Sherwani or a traditional salwar and kurta. But there areno hard and fast rules here.
Rituals Before MarriageIstikhara and Imam-Zamin
Muslims complete the negotiation process with the ceremony of Istikhara. In this, it is customary to takethe consent of God for concluding the negotiation matter. Here, the Mujtahid (Religious Head) obtains theconsent of God with the help of a Tasbih (Rosary) and when the Istikhara is wajib (super affirmative), it isconsidered that the marriage between the parties should be finally settled. The mother of the boy or someother close woman relative (if the mother is dead), accompanied by her female friends and relations ,pays a visit to the house of the girl with sweets and Imam Zamin to see the girl immediately after Istikhara.The guardians of the girl accept the sweets and entertain them with refreshments. In most cases the girlis adorned and the women of the boy's family see the girl's face for the first time and the mother of theboy ties the Imam Zamin round the upper portion of he bride's right arm ( a silver or gold coin wrapped ina silken cloth). This ceremony is called the Imam Zamin ceremony.
Mangni is a popular marriage ceremony, which is fast making its presence felt at all Indian marriages. Inthis ceremony, the female members of the boy's family visit the house of the girl, taking with them sweets,fruits and vegetables. The sweets are distributed among the relatives and friends of the girl's family. Inreturn sweets, fruits and vegetables are sent to the boy's house and there also sweets are distributedamong the relatives and friends of the boy's family. Exchanging rings between the groom and the bridedoes also take place.
Manjha is a ceremony that starts a few days before the actual Nikah ceremony. The bride wears yellowclothes and in some of the families, the bridegroom is also dressed in yellow clothes. During these daysthe Nawan (Barber's wife) in the case of the bride, in Nai (Barber) in the case of the groom rubs Butna(grounded mustard seeds) on the bride's and bridegroom's bodies and each in his or her own house and