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The Malabar Wedding Diaries – Part V: Wedding Day

6:54:00 pm

And we now come to the final post of the Malabar Wedding Diaries!! This is the actual wedding day, when the main events in joining two people in matrimony take place.

In Malabar Muslim weddings, the bride carries no hallmark expected of a traditional Indian wedded woman – no wedding ring, no mangalsutra, no sindoor - nothing at all to show the world that she is now someone’s wife. I can’t tell you how much confusion this has created while I was working in Bangalore and Pune. Worse was trying to convince my nosy hostel warden that I was indeed going to meet my husband!! 

However, there is the practice of Mahr or dowry paid by the groom to the bride which is mostly in gold. You can read more about it here.

The main event in Malabar Muslim weddings is the Nikaah or the solemnization of the marriage. Traditionally, the Nikaah takes place either at the bride’s home, or the mosque though nowadays it is held at Kalyana Mandapam or wedding hall if that’s how the family has planned it.

There aren’t too many rituals per se, but there is quite a bit of travelling (and of course, food) involved. Here are the wedding events, in order of their occurrence :-).

1. Dress up – Obviously, the first step :-). Everyone dresses up and there is quite a lot of noise and lots of ‘make up-y’ smells floating around :-). There might or might not be a beautician to attend to all the ladies of the family. Here is a peek into what my sis and I wore for the wedding. Details of our outfits are mentioned here.

My Saree
My Sister's Lehenga
We also wore our ‘Sister of the Groom’ badges with pride :-).

Little girl lost among the hustle bustle
2. Thedal – This is only relevant if the Nikaah is at the bride’s home. Her brothers or other male relatives go the groom’s home and pick him up. They are usually served drinks and snacks there. (And this is just the beginning :-)) Else, both parties reach the auditorium by themselves, in decorated cars. If held in an auditorium, the stage is also decorated.

Groom leaving for the venue
Bride entering the Venue
The stage is set
3. Nikaah – A priest or Maulvi presides over the Nikaah function. He gives a short speech about the holy bond of matrimony and says a Dua  or short prayer after which he performs the Nikaah.

Everyone Prays for the New Couple
The groom holds hands with the bride’s father (yes, you read that right, her father) and they repeat the verses that the priest recites. Then the groom hands over the Mahr and signs the marriage register. This completes the official part of the wedding.

If being held at home, the groom usually leaves for the bride’s place after lunch. In an auditorium, the Nikaah is usually held before lunch.

3. Veettil koodal – We know that the groom shifts residence to the bride’s home. So this is the ritual where the bride’s mother officially welcomes the groom home. After the Nikaah and lunch, the bride and her family leave for her house and prepare to receive the groom. A little later, the groom and the male members of his family go over there. They are fed drinks and snacks (appangal) as described in my previous post.

The groom and bride are then ushered into the maniyara where they’re offered a glass of milk by the bride’s mother, which they share. Then the groom drops a gold coin into the remaining milk in the glass, which is meant as a gift for his new mother-in-law. Yes, she has to fish it out :-).

Lots of singing and photography ensues after which the groom and his male relatives leave and return to his home.

4. ChamiyikkalOnce the groom is back at his home, his female relatives take off to the bride’s house along with the wedding outfit they’ve got for her. Here is a picture of the outfit we got my brother’s bride. Sorry about the clarity, I clicked it in a hurry.

It’s a pink long top with side slits, worn on a white fish cut skirt.

They are again received at the bride’s house with drinks and snacks while the groom’s sisters or a couple of cousins go up to the bride’s room and help her with her new outfit. Everything put on is new – flowers, make up and footwear. More photos are taken, and then the bride along with all the ladies of her family and the groom’s family leave for the groom’s house.

5. Welcoming the bride – The bride is welcomed into her husband’s home with a lot of fanfare. Crackers are burst and she is sprinkled with flowers/confetti/rose water etc. while the ladies sing songs (Maapila paattu). For my brother’s wedding, we made a ‘Here comes the Bride’ sign for the occasion and had Cub hold it while we ushered the bride in.

She is seated with her husband, (who has changed into a new suit of clothes), and is given a drink. The other ladies who’ve accompanied her are also welcomed with drinks and snacks. (I know, you’re probably wondering how much snacking goes on during the wedding, in addition to lunch).

This is usually the time for some fun and pranks. Some brides are given drinks with salt instead of sugar and some are made to sing songs. Sometimes a wedding cake is cut and fed to the guests (what, food again??).

There is more photo-taking in store, during which the visitors gradually leave. By the time darkness falls, there is just the immediate family left at home and maybe a few close relatives. The bride changes out of her wedding outfit into something a little simpler and more comfortable after a long day of heavy clothes. She is then gifted gold jewelry by her husband’s parents, sisters and brothers’ wives. (Ha!! And you thought the wedding was only about food :-))

During this time, at their end, the bride’s family is preparing for the arrival of the new couple by cleaning the house and getting a grand dinner spread ready. A little towards dinner time, her brothers/uncles come to pick up the new couple and take them home. They leave with the petti as described here. Sometimes, a few friends of the groom may accompany him for dinner.

That is the end of a hectic Malabar Muslim wedding day. I’m guessing just reading about all that travel and food is making you feel tired and full :-D. I did warn you that food played a starring role here!!

OMG! I didn't realize there were going to be so many snacks!!
As we come to the end of the series, I hope you guys enjoyed this glimpse into Malabar Muslim culture. If you get a chance to attend such a wedding, please do so, you’ll come back with full tummies and hearts :-). Thank you guys for reading such a long post, please let me know what you think of the whole series!!

P.S. – All the photographs you see here are from my brother’s wedding. If there are terms that you don’t understand, you may refer to my previous posts in the series.

Other posts in the Malabar Wedding Diaries series:

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  1. fabi.. nice saree ...
    u looks amazing and ur little one too........

  2. Enjoyed this post..a slice of culture and gorgeous outfits!! I love your saree :-)

  3. these r truly fab pics fab :) !
    Recently my brothers wedding got over and enjoyed every detail of this post
    may god bless the couple

    1. I honestly think we have way more fun at our brothers' and sisters' weddings than our own!! Thank you for reading through, Afshan!!