Cultural Wedding Series: The Muslim/Sikh Indian Wedding

India: a land of mystery, beauty, and long-standing traditions. Marriage in India is greatly influenced by the religious culture, and that’s why we’ll be dividing our discussion into two parts: Muslim/Sikh and Hindu.

There are a few similarities between the types of unions. Engagements in India were traditionally accompanied by a bridal dowry, which has since been outlawed. Still, sometimes the bride and groom initially meet each other at their engagement party, where gifts are given and sweets are served! Being of the same caste (social standing and function) is of utmost importance. Weddings are often held in a tent, courtyard or garden of the home of one of the pair. And sometimes in India, as well as Iran, Syria and Turkey, the couple may try to step on each other’s toes during the ceremony because it’s said the one who succeeds will be the boss of the new union!

In the Shiite Muslim culture of India, it’s not uncommon for cousins to marry. The guardian of the man proposes to the girl’s guardian. The groom’s mother and female friends will then bring sweets to the bride. Sometimes the bride will show her face to the groom and his family. The groom’s mother ties the traditional Imam Zamin (coin wrapped in silk) on the bride’s right arm.

In Sikh Indian families, the groom’s family often gives a thread with five knots tied in it to the bride’s parents, five days before the wedding. Each day one knot is untied. On the wedding day, guests arrive at the bride’s home with coconuts, sugar, money and jewelry. Muslim and Sikh brides wear a kameeze (long, embroidered tunic) over shalwar (baggy trousers). Men wear a white jacket with a stand-up collar and white trousers. The bride’s father provides a long scarf which is held between the bride and groom as a symbol of unity. With a granthi officiating, the couple walks four times around the Granth Sahib holy book.

After the ceremony, the men go to a banquet hall for a meal of curried vegetables and salad, rice, yogurt and chappatis prepared by the bride’s family. The father of the bride goes home to bid her farewell before she leaves with her groom in a decorated getaway car.

Did you or a friend have an Indian wedding?  Share your memories!  And check back soon to learn more about Hindu Indian brides and grooms.