Like most weddings in the subcontinent, weddings in Pakistan are of the arranged type. They also have elaborate rites and rituals, which are sacred to natives as well as interesting and amazing to outsiders.
Some of the wedding practices are,
The bride seeing: This is the initial meeting between the families of the groom and the bride at the bride’s home where the families size up the groom and the bride. The grooms and bride have only a few moments to get a look at each other and sometimes are even allowed to talk to each other,
Zabaan: If the two parties like each other, the proposal of marriage is accepted and given the status of Zabaan (acceptance), such that there was no backing out of the proposal later on.
Engagement: A party will be hosted by the two families to celebrate the forthcoming union between the bride and the groom. Rings are exchanged and prayers are read as well as the date of marriage is fixed. Bridesmaid and Best man are selected from family members.
Mehendi: The henna ceremony is arranged for 2 to 3 days before the wedding where the bride is decorated with Mehendi or henna. Nowadays, the groom is also smeared with oil on the head. While the bride and groom are dressed in casuals, guests will come dressed in yellow or green. There is a lot of dancing and fanfare organized in this event.
Dholki: Traditionally, some days before the wedding, women would gather in the bride’s house to play the Dholki (percussion instrument). The main aim was to build up the hype before the wedding.
Gharoli: The night before the wedding, the groom’s family will celebrate gharoli to prepare him as a bridegroom. His mother will tie a turban around his head and shroud him in a sparkly scarf. His sisters will take turns to carry pots of water on their head as well as shower flower petals on his head. Turban signifies his majesty and flowers stand for happiness. Relatives will also present gifts to the groom like cologne, jewelry and clothes.
Bari: The night before the wedding, the groom’s mother will showcase gifts for the bride (homeware, jewelry, etc) meant to make the bride welcome in her new family.
Baraat: This is a major function where the group of family, relatives, and friends of the groom make a procession towards the home of the bride. The groom dressed in regal finery sits atop a decorated horse on his way to pick up the bride from her house. There are much dancing and merry-making. Drummers will make noise and fireworks will be burst to create hype. Once the baraat reaches the bride’s home, there will be more fireworks and dancing through the groom will not dance. The bride’s family will give them a grand welcome, showering the group with flower petals and presenting flower garlands.
Nikkah: The first major ceremony is the Nikkah, which is the signing of the contract of marriage between the bride and the groom. Two witnesses are only required for this purpose but family members usually attend. The groom will present dowry for the girl, usually ranging from £200 to £ 5000. Thereafter, other rituals are carried out.
Muhn Dekhi: This is the ’unveiling of the face’ ceremony. After the Nikkah, the heavily veiled bride is made to sit next to the groom. The groom will unveil her and see her face for the first time that day. To mark their mutual delight, they will feed each other traditional sweets. The couple will be congratulated by friends and family.
Reception or Walima: A grand reception will be held to conclude the wedding festivities. Bride and groom will be congratulated by one and all. Pakistanis, who are far away, may send an online gift to Pakistan. It is common for a reception to feature themed party, four-course meals, wedding cake, dance floor, and even a DJ.
These are some of the traditions associated with a Pakistani wedding.