They say marriages are made in heaven and maintained on earth. Which heaven are they talking about? The actual heaven, or the one on Earth, i.e., Kashmir, The marriages in Kashmir are made and maintained in heaven. Yes, known for its charming valleys and breathtaking mountain views, Kashmir offers you even more when it comes to traditional wedding celebrations. If you are thinking about booking a Kashmir holiday package, immerse yourself in the unique and varied world of Kashmiri wedding traditions, from bridal clothes to mouthwatering foods.
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It’s very crucial to choose the right time for a wedding in Kashmir due to its varied seasons. If you’re considering places to visit in Kashmir in June and want to capitalize on the lovely weather, summer (May to August) is an excellent choice for your celebration. Opting for this season allows for an outdoor wedding amid blooming gardens, creating a picturesque setting. Similarly, autumn (September to November) provides a charming setting for the celebrations. It’s important to think about your preferences and the atmosphere you want for this particular day.
- The Matchmaking Process
Kashmiri wedding traditions start with a matchmaking process by the elders of the family. But nowadays, young couples do meet and make a love match, though their families still must approve it. The exchange of biodata, which are comprehensive profiles including educational background, family history, and preferences, signifies the start of this careful procedure and indicates how important unity within the family is.
- The Engagement Ceremony
Once the couple’s families have come to an agreement, an engagement, also known as Nishchayam, is announced, but it has nothing to do with ‘chai’ or ‘tea’ as perceived from the name. Engagement is the time when relationships are officially announced in front of everyone. An exchange of rings takes place between the couples to symbolize their commitment. It’s a moment of celebration marked by blessings and the exchange of gifts.
- Livun: the Henna Ceremony
We also know this ceremony by the name of Mehndi. The bride’s hands and feet are decorated with beautiful patterns of henna, reflecting love, beauty, and the start of a new chapter. It’s a time for female friends and family to get together, share tales, and create beautiful art with emotional and cultural meaning.
The Wedding Day
- Vanna: Welcoming the Baraat
As the groom, accompanied by his family and friends, makes his way to the wedding venue, the bride’s family welcomes the procession in a ceremony called “Vanna.” This lively reception involves the exchange of garlands and the sprinkling of rose water, marking the formal arrival of the groom. The ladies in the family sing traditional wedding songs, and the groom is showered with coins, sweets, and almonds.
- Pheran and Kasaba Dharan: The Wedding Attire
On this special day, the bride is draped in the traditional ‘Pheran’ (an embroidered gown) and adorned with intricate jewelry and is escorted to the wedding venue by her maternal uncle in a ceremony called “Kasaba Dharan. On the other hand, the groom, too, wears a Pheran, emphasizing the cultural significance of these traditional garments.
- Nikah Khwaani and Mahraaz Saal
Nikah Khwaani is the main event everyone awaits in the family. The groom is welcomed by the brother of the bride. He’s accompanied to the stage, where the bride joins him. Afterward, the immediate families from both sides join them for Nikah. The qazi, meanwhile, recites the holy verses from the Quran to bless the couple. It is called ‘Mahraaz Saal’.
- Kashmiri Wedding Food
You must be aware that Kashmir is famous for its flavorful and aromatic dishes, and the wedding feast is often a highlight of the festivities. The main attraction is the traditional multi-course supper, wazwan. Every dish, including the melt-in-your-mouth rogan josh, fragrant biryanis, and crispy fried lamb ribs, is a culinary masterpiece. These treats are traditionally prepared by slow-cooking, which intensifies the taste and guarantees that the wedding guests will enjoy a delicious meal. You must be drooling by now. It is preferable that you arrive hungry and not be a vegetarian!!
It’s time to say goodbye to the bride and wish her good luck as she kicks off a new journey with her husband. It is an emotional chunk of the event for the bride and her family. On one side, she grieves leaving her family forever, and on the other hand, she’s zealous about taking the first walk with her husband.
It’s a kind of funny custom in Kashmir where the friends of the groom stop the couple halfway home and ask for some ransom to pass. He’s not allowed to take his bride home until he pays the amount called Kadal-e-taar to his friends.
- Muhar Tullun
These names really sound strange, but their purpose is very simple. This ceremony is performed by the bride’s mother-in-law. After welcoming the bride at home, she lifts her veil and feeds her sweets. Such a sweet gesture it is. The in-laws offer gifts, usually cash, and blessings to the bride. Some families sacrifice a goat in honor of welcoming a new bride.
- Phiri Saal
Again, it sounds strange, doesn’t it? But it’s a very pleasing ritual where, after a few days of marriage, a couple visits the girl’s paternal house for a ritualistic feast. All guests are treated with the utmost hospitality and respect.
- Satim Doh
Satim Doh is the first week a bride spends with her in-laws. It is a fun period where she wears different colored clothes for seven days. Throughout the week, she’s treated like a queen and isn’t allowed to perform any household chores. On the seventh day, the bride’s family is invited for a feast at the groom’s place. It marks the end of all events at the Kashmiri wedding.
Kashmiri weddings remind me of IAS Officer Athar Amir, who was a Kashmiri guy and AIR 2 in the IAS 2015 batch. I hope you have seen pictures of his wedding with IAS Officer Tina Dabi, AIR 1, which went viral on social media at that time. So, well, if you have a bachelor friend or a relative in Kashmir, make sure to grab a chance to attend his/her wedding, as it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Until then, you can access this virtual tour at your convenience.