I went to Pakistan for the purpose of attending my cousin’s wedding and now that it is over, it’s time to reminisce. The official wedding was a total of three days that consisted of the mehndi, the baraat and the valima. The first two events were in Peshawar and the last in Karachi.
This was the first night of the wedding and in my opinion, the most fun. The mehndi ceremony is when dancing, singing, and traditional customs like feeding sweets to the bride and groom take place. The standard colors worn on this night include yellow, green and orange among others but people can get away wearing whatever they like. It is definitely the most colorful day of the wedding ceremony. In my experience, the groom’s side arrived at the hall and started to dance for a while. Then, the nikkah, the Islamic marriage contract, was signed by both the bride and groom. The bride was brought out onto the stage followed by the groom sitting beside her. We had dinner and then everyone danced the rest of the night. The event concluded with families having their pictures taken with the couple.
This is the night when the groom’s side comes to take the bride back with them. Since my cousin lives in Karachi and his bride lived in Peshawar, the groom’s entire family journeyed on the Pakistan Railways for 48+ hours to Peshawar. At the end of the baraat, the bride goes home with the groom and this ceremony is called the rukhsati. At my cousin’s wedding she walked under the Holy Qu’ran with her family out to the car. The traditional color for the bride to wear is red. The baraat is more of a formal event though people still danced for a little bit. Everyone wears their fanciest suits, has dinner and takes pictures with the couple.
The third and final night is hosted by the groom’s side. Where the baraat ends with the couple leaving together, the valima starts with them entering together. The valima is the celebration of two families becoming one. For us, this took place in Karachi since it is where the groom lives. Everyone who was not able to come to Peshawar to attend the first two nights came to the valima. I would say this was the most formal of the three nights. Everyone met other family and friends, had dinner, and of course, took pictures (like the cool one below).
Though the official wedding was a total of three days, the actual wedding preparations took months and even a few years. There is so much to account for in wedding planning from booking the banquet halls and having clothes made to delivering the wedding cards and getting henna done plus so much more. I witnessed it all for the first time and it’s crazy to think how often weddings in Pakistan occur within a single family. I was fortunate enough to attend three different wedding ceremonies in a single month. My entire visit to Pakistan was phenomenal and I can’t wait for the next shaadi season to roll around.