Weddings everywhere are defined by different rituals and traditions. They all have the same result, uniting two people that love each other and want to spend their lives together. However, no wedding is exactly the same. Aside from these rituals and traditions, personal preference and religion also take part in the entire process. Across the globe, there are various versions of this universal phenomenon. Let’s explore them!
Nikah, also known as the Islamic ceremony, consists of a lot of various rituals and ceremonies. They first start with an Istikhara ritual, where religious figures in the Muslim community pray to Allah and seek His blessings for the wedding. The actual Nikah must take place in the presence of a Maulvi, religious priest, and close family members. First they recite verses from the Quran and afterwards, the bride and groom get asked three times whether they want to marry each other. After this, the couple signs the Nikahnama, the marriage contract, and receive blessings from the elders surrounding them. Both families are very involved during the entire event and play a huge role in every ceremony. In the end, the couple is showered with lots of gifts.
The Malay wedding is characterized as very luxurious and unique with different Asian and Islamic influences. The first step is to introduce the families to each other during Adat Merisik and Adat Bertunang. The second step is planning the wedding and setting a date. Three days before the wedding, there’s a henna staining ceremony, called Berinai. Henna is an oil extracted from Henna leaves. This is put on the couple’s fingertips by their relatives and friends and stands for fertility. Henna drawings are very often used in Muslim weddings all around the world. The official wedding ceremony is officiated by an imam or qadi. After reciting verses from the Quran, the couple signs the marriage contract. Something that’s also very common and essential in the Malaysian culture is the groom giving the bride a dowry. The couple will wear traditional Malay attire and spend their day like actual royals.
Moroccan weddings last three days; the first day is a hammam day. A hammam is a Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath. The bride invites her friends and relatives to get prepped for the big day. The day after, there’s a henna party. This a female event where the bride gets henna designs on her hands and feet. For Moroccans, henna doesn’t only stand for fertility, but also for beauty and optimism. This night is also very emotional, for it is the last night in her elderly home. The wedding party, the next day, contains lots of traditional Moroccan dresses and jewelry. There’s also a part where the bride and groom sit in the amaria, a decorated platform held by 4 guys, to really stand out and be celebrated.
Weddings are very important in the Somali culture, it’s not just uniting two people or families. It goes beyond that, it’s about uniting two tribes. It is mostly seen as an establishment of new alliances. Often they sign a contract, giving the bride a certain amount of property in case of divorce. Ceremonies take place before and after the wedding. On the wedding day, there’s a wide range of traditional meals and a lot of dancing. The bride usually lives with her husband’s family after marriage, with her own family providing household goods and the home. She does keep her own family name.
Marriages in Turkey start with asking the bride’s hand in marriage and a “Söz Kesme”. This is the agreement to marry in front of crowded guests. The engagement is completed with a ring and a kerchief, also known as a bandana. The traditional weddings are defined by the typical passages such as planting a wedding flag at noon prayer, a get-together of the families the night before the wedding. This night is also the night the “Kina Gecesi” takes place, a ritual that includes coloring the hands and feet of the bride. On the actual wedding day, the bride gets a red ribbon tied around her waist by her brother or a close relative, this is called “Bekaret kuşağı”. The wedding ceremony starts after the groom returns from the mosque with the hodja (a preacher). By entering the groom’s home, the bride receives a gift from her mother-in-law and the newlyweds are accompanied by drums and pipes.
Bulgarian Islamic weddings contain two days filled with different ceremonies and rituals. In specific, the Pomak people descending from Bulgarian Christians who converted to Islam during the Ottoman Empire. The first day, gifts will be placed outside the bride’s elderly home. This represents wealth and prosperity. On the second day, they use face paint on the bride’s face to mark her transition to married life. The paint also defines the bride’s purity.
This ritual painting is called “gelina”. After that, there’s an imam that says his blessings before they take the bride to the grooms home. Once arrived, the groom removes the paint from the bride’s face. These wedding transitions used to be suppressed by the communist regime but are reviving.
Bonus: Republic of Dagestan
Last but definitely not least, Dagestan is an independent republic in Russia with very uncommon wedding rituals. First of all, they usually organize two weddings, one at the groom’s home and one at the bride’s home. Wedding guests travel from all around the world to attend the wedding, the amount is often around 500 to 1500 guests. In the past, the groom used to kidnap the bride with the bride’s permission. This happened when the groom was of a lower class than the bride and couldn’t get the permission to marry the bride. This tradition doesn’t happen nowadays. The most important aspect is the Nikah. Without Nikah, the marriage will be seen as invalid. After registrating the marriage, the couple will visit a mosque to complete their wedding rituals. After this, they return to a hall for celebrations with friends and family.