The Nikah is the Islamic marriage contract ceremony. It either takes place at the Shaadi itself or on a separate day at the bride's house or mosque, before the shaadi event.
It is performed by an imam (priest) which formally indicates signing of the marriage contract (Nikah Naama). The bride and groom must both have two witnesses present to ensure that the marriage is consensual.
Nikah-naama (document of marriage contract) is registered in Nikah. The Nikah-naama contains several terms and conditions that are to be respected by both parties (bride & groom). It includes bride’s right to divorce her husband. Nikah-naama specifies “Meher,” the monetary amount the groom will give the bride. Meher includes two amounts; one that is due before the marriage is consummated and the other that is a deferred amount given to the bride at a time to be determined. The Meher guarantees the bride's freedom within the marriage, and acts as the bride's safety net.
The fathers of groom and bride act as witnesses to the wedding. If father is not available, the senior male, brother or uncle performs the ceremony. Islamic Imam reads selected verses from the Quran and waits for the Ijab-e-Qubul (proposal and acceptance) of wedding. Usually, the groom's side makes proposal and the bride's side conveys her assent. Maulvi and witnesses take the Nikah-naama to the bride and read it aloud to her. She accepts the Nikah-naama saying 'qabool kiya,' meaning 'I accept and signs it. The Nikah-naama is then taken to the groom and read aloud to him. He accepts saying 'qabool kiya and signs the document. The Maulvi and witnesses (gavah) also do sign the Nikah-naama contract and the wedding becomes legal. The Maulvi recites the Fatihah, the first chapter of the Quran, and various durud, or blessings to mark the closing of Nikah ceremony.
After the wedding is legally announced, dishes of dates and misri (unrefined sugar) are served to the groom's family. Groom is then escorted to his bride where he’s allowed to site beside his wife. This is the time when sisters-in-law of groom play pranks and tease the groom.
|Bride Signing the Nikkah Naama (Wedlock Certificate)|