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Marriage in Pakistan is seen as the most standard and stable living form for adults.

A marriage
is seen not only as a link between man and a women but it is also considered a union between
their parents' families.
Most marriages in Pakistan are therefore arranged. Arranged marriages have been an integral part
of Pakistani society, for centuries and it is quite normal for people to have their marriages
planned by their parents and other respected family-members. Arranged matches are made after
taking into account factors such as the backgrounds of their families (wealth, social standing,
Often a marriage is made within the extended family, such as between cousions.
Polygamy is permitted under Pakistani law, however, it is now the exception rather than the norm
and is very uncommon in the major cities. A husband is more likely to get himself a second wife,
or recommended by family members to have a second marriage, if he remains childless with the
first wife.
Arranged marriages
Arranged marriages are still prevalent in Pakistan. Marriages are often arranged within the
family or within the same tribe/caste or ethnicity. However, love marriages are slowly becoming
more common and acceptable in Pakistan.
Proposal party
Is a reception made in the bride's house, where the Groom parents and family elders asks for the
Bride's hands from her parents. Once the wedding proposal is accepted the families read Surah
Al-Fatihah, which is the first surah in the Quran, and then tea and refreshments are served.
Mangni
Mangni is a formal ceremony to mark the engagement of the couple. It is usually a small
ceremony that takes place in the presence of a few close members of would-be bride's & groom’s
families. Prayer and blessings for the couple are recited and the wedding date is usually decided.
Mayoon or Mayun
Mayoon is celebrated at the bride's house. Usually the bride's friends and close relatives get
together at her house and they dance and sing, often accompanied by drum music. Generally the
bride's family give bangles and sometimes clothes to her friends, depending on what the family
can afford. The evening also usually includes a hennawhere the women put designs in henna on
each others' hands. The mayoon can last up to late night. The bride usually wears a simple yellow
Shalwar Kameez. Mayun is a custom of the bride entering into the state of seclusion eight to
fifteen days before the wedding. She is made free of all the chores and errands during this time.
The bride and groom are not allowed to see each other after the Mayun. The beautification rituals
begin during this time.
Ubtan is a paste made from turmeric, sandalwood powder, herbs and aromatic oils, which
groom's mother brings for bride. She blesses bride and applies “ubtan’ to the bride's hands and
face. Groom's sister also does the same, and a thick string called a “gana( Bangles made of
Flowers)” is tied to the bride’s arm. “Ubtan” is applied to the bride's skin each day leading up to
the wedding. Similar ceremony is held for the groom, where bride's mother, sisters, cousins and
friends bring “ubtan” for groom and rub it on his skin.
Dholki
Dholki is a popular ceremony of singing traditional wedding & popular songs accompanied by
two or three percussion instruments Dholki being the main. The girl is officially treated as bride
(dulhan). She wears traditional Pakistani yellow outfit. Her brothers, sisters, and cousins bring
her (bride) in the dholki party.
Mehndi/Rasm-e-Henna
Mehndior the Rasm-e-henna ceremony, typically takes place one or two days prior to the main
wedding day. The event is traditionally held separately for the bride and the groom, and henna is
symbolically placed on the couple's hands. The groom's friends and family bring along sweets
and henna for the bride, and the bride's family does the same for the groom. On the bride's
ceremony the groom normally does not participate and similarly, on the groom's event the bride
stays at home. Female guests are sometimes offered mehndi at the host's discretion.
The ceremony may also be held simultaneously for both the groom and the bride.
The bride normally wears a green dress or yellows/oranges for mehndi and uses only light, or no,
make up. The groom will typically wear a casual Shalwar Kameez. The bride and/or the groom
are brought forward in the ceremony under a decorative dupatta by their close relatives.
Baraat
Baraat is procession of family, relatives, and friends of groom that accompany the groom to
bride’s home for official wedding ceremony. Groom makes his way to the bride's home on a
richly decked horse or in a car and “baraat” follows in different vehicles. Groom is given warm
welcome by the bride’s family with flower garlands and rose petals. Family and relatives of the
groom and the bride exchange glasses of juice or sherbet along with money. Guests are
welcomed by the bride’s sisters by playfully hitting them with a stick wrapped and decorated
with flowers.
Nikah
Nikah is purely Islamic official wedding ceremony that usually takes place at the bride’s home.
Nikah is attended by close family members, relatives, and friends of groom and bride. Usually,
the men and women are made to sit separately, in different rooms, or have a purdah, or curtain,
separating them.
Nikah-naama (document of marriage contract) is registered in Nikah. The Nikahnaama contains
several terms and conditions that are to be respected by both parties (bride & groom). It includes
bride’s right to divorce her husband. Nikahnaama specifies “Meher,” the monetary amount the
groom will give the bride. Meher includes two amounts in Pakistani culture, but in Islamic belief
is one total amount; one that is due before the marriage is consummated and the other that is a
deferred amount given to the bride at a time to be determined. The Meher guarantees the bride's
freedom within the marriage, and acts as the bride's safety net.
The fathers of groom and bride (Walis) act as witnesses to the wedding. If father is not available,
the senior male, brother or uncle performs the ceremony. Islamic Imam (called maulana or
maulvi in Urdu) reads selected verses from the Quran and waits for the Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal
and acceptance) of wedding. Usually, the groom's side makes proposal and the bride's side
conveys her assent. Maulvi and witnesses (gavah) take the Nikahnaama to the bride and read it
aloud to her. She accepts the Nikahnaama saying 'qabool kiya,' meaning 'I accept and signs it.
The Nikahnaama is then taken to the groom and read aloud to him. He accepts saying 'qabool
kiya and signs the document. The Maulvi and witnesses (gavah) also do sign the Nikahnaama
contract and the wedding becomes legal. The Maulvi recites the Fatihah, the first chapter of the
Quran, and various durud, or blessings to mark the closing of Nikah ceremony.
After the wedding is legally announced, dishes of dates and misri (unrefined sugar) are served to
the groom's family. Groom is then escorted to his bride where he’s allowed to sit beside his wife.
This is the time when sisters-in-law of groom play pranks and tease the groom.
Shaadi
The main day of the wedding is called shaadi, which is the bride's reception. The event takes
place at the bride's house, where large wedding tents may be set up in the garden or a nearby
place. It has also become very common to hold the event in a marriage hall or hotel. The bride's
family is responsible for the reception and arrangements on this day.
The barat or grooms procession indicates the arrival of the groom's family and friends to the
bride's house. The barat is often accompanied by the rhythms of a dhol (drum) as it arrives and is
greeted with flowers garland and rose petals by the brides family. It is customary for the bride's
sisters and friends to stop the barat from entering the arena until a sufficient amount of cash is
given to them. This can lead to banter, usually harmless and just for fun, between the bride's
sisters and friends on one side and the groom's brothers and friends on the other side.
The bride traditionally wears a red/pink/purple gharara, lehenga or shalwar kameez which is
heavily embroidered; other bright colors may also be seen. The dress is always accompanied
with heavy gold jewellery. The groom may wear a traditional dress such as sherwani with a sehra
or turbanthough some may prefer to wear a western inspiredsuit.
The nikah is the Islamic marriage contract ceremony. It either takes place at the Shaadi itself or
on a separate day at the bride's house, before the shaadi event.
It is performed by an imam which formally indicates signing of the marriage contract. The bride
and groom must both have two witnesses present to ensure that the marriage is consensual.
A dinner is served which consists of several dishes alongside pullao, biryani, chaap, dal gosht,
tandoori chiken and naan.
Rukhsati
Finally, the Rukhsati takes place, when the groom and his family will leave together with the
bride. The Quran is normally held over the brides head as she walks from the stage to the exit in
order to bless her. This is a somber occasion for the bride's parents as it marks the departure of
their daughter from their home. The departure of the bride becomes a very emotional scene as
she says farewell to the home of her parents and siblings to start a new married life.
Traditionally, the groom traveled by a decorated horse to the bride's house and after the wedding
ceremony took his wife in a doli to his parents' house to live. The horse and the carts have
nowadays been replaced by cars, and one will, in sharp contrast to western weddings, typically
see a quiet bride with wet eyes as she sits in the car beside her husband leaving for her new
home.
Mooh Dikhai/ Arsi Masshaf
Mooh Dikhai is the ceremony of first time “showing of the face” after the Nikah. The couple is
made to see each other in the mirror and the bride unveils her face that she keeps hidden during
the Nikah. The custom of Mooh Dikhai is also called “Aarsi Musshaf.” The bride and groom
share a piece of sweet fruit, such as a date and family and friends congratulate the couple and
offer gifts. Dinner is served to the guests. The sisters, friends, and female cousins of bride take
this opportunity to steal the groom's shoes and demand a sum of money for shoes. This is very
popular custom and groom usually carries a lot of cash, due to the popularity of this custom. He
pays money to get back his shoes and girls divide the money among themselves.
Ruksati is the ceremony to bid farewell to the bride before her departure to the groom's house.
She says goodbye to her parents, close friends and family. The Quran is held over her head as a
blessing. Although this practice is un-Islamic, a lot of Pakistani families have come to adopt it.
Walima
This is the final day of the wedding held by couple as they host their first dinner as husband and
wife. The groom's family invites all of the bride's family and their guests to their home for a feast
at their place or a marriage hall.
The bride wears a heavily decorated dress with gold jewellery provided by the groom's
family.Typical colour palettes are pastel shades.
The Western equivalent to the walima would be the wedding reception, though walima's are held
the day after the shaadi or wedding.
Religious and ethnic
Wedding ceremonies and customs often differ significantly between Deobandis , Barelwis , Shias
and Sunnis and also among the different sub-groups of the Barelwis. The above mentioned
marriage customs are typical of a fairly liberal-minded Pakistani family. More orthodox families
have more sober ceremonies , especially no music is allowed , and the bride wears a Hijab.
Customs are also variety among Punjabis , Pakhtuns , Sindhis , Memons, Balochis , Muhajirs ,
Biharis , and Kashmiri Muslims.