Many Ismailis whose origin is from South Asia perform these traditional ceremonies. These ceremonies welcome the bride to her new family. Traditionally these are performed at the entrance of the brides’s new home signifying the threshold the couple will cross to start their lives together. Mehindi Mehndi (Henna): An art/practice of painting elaborate designs/patterns using a paste made from ground leaves of the mehndi tree, which is then combined with tea water and clove oil. During the celebration of the wedding mehndi ceremony a professional henna applicator is called to the bride’s house to apply mehndi onto the hands and legs of the bride. The first application of henna is put onto the palms of the bride, and then onto her arms and legs. The evening is filled with laughter, dance, music in which all family members and friends participate and henna artists are also available throughout the eve to put mehndi for guests attending the event. The celebration of the wedding mehndi ceremony is believed to be an auspicious occasion for the bride and groom as it symbolizes happiness, prosperity, love and strength in marriage. The mehndi continues to remain on the hands and legs of the bride all night to ensure it comes out darker for her wedding day. As legend has it that the “darker the mehndi the deeper the love”.
The word Gari means a vessel in Gujarati, and thus, this ceremony centres around a vessel, decorated with beads and symbols. The bride/groom’s sibling must go to JamatKhana to collect holy water in a Gari. The Gari is then coverd with a coconut, which will eventually be crushed under the groom’s car when he takes the bride from her house.
Once the Gari is collected they are not allowed to talk until the Gari is handed over to the mother, in order to maintain the purity of the water. When the siblings arrive home with the Gari, they are welcomed by the mother, who ponka them for handing over the gari and they will receive a small gift in return.
Four men, preferably the bride/groom’s uncles (mother’s brothers) bring pineapplies or sugarcane to the bride’s house and place them in the four corners of the room. This is meant as a symbol of protection from evil entering the home.
The Pithi: A paste made out of chickpea flour, turmeric, sandalwood powder, herbs, aromatic oils, rose water and other ingredients. The pithi ceremony is a joyful, playful and fun occasion in which family members and friends bless the couple with well wishes by rubbing the pithi paste onto the bride and groom’s arms, neck, face, hands and legs. The paste is believed to be an excellent cleanser for providing skin glow, soft skin and shine. They may also perform the ponkwa ceremony. Puro: In the puro ceremony, the groom’s family brings gifts for the bride to welcome her to the family. The trousseau trays are carried by the groom’s sisters and female cousins. They are greeted by the bride’s mother and her family and each girl carrying a tray is “ponked” by the bride’s mother as she enters the hall. The girls then receive a gift in exchange for the tray. Traditionally this is cash or a gold or silver coin, but modern ceremonies offer the girls small gifts such as earrings or pendants Nikkah: The nikkah is a religious marriage ceremony with the bride and groom in accordance with the Islamic custom. In traditional and historical Nikkah ceremonies the bride and the groom actually sit in separate spaces.
More modern ceremonies have the bride and groom sit next to each other as the “mukhi-saheb” (similar to a priest/member of clergy), reads the marriage contract. The Nikkah is recited in Arabic by a member of the community, or a family member or friend. However, the marriage contract contains similar clauses as the traditional and historical ceremonies.
Chandlo A yellow mark (chandlo) is placed on the couple’s forehead to initiate them into matrimony under a sign of good fortune. The couple is then showered with rice and/or rose petals, which symbolizes prosperity and love. Ponkhawa The groom’s mother wraps a betal nut in a corner of her baandhni (shawl) and makes seven circles around the couple. This ritual summons the spirit of goodness to protect the couple from misfortune and to preserve the bonds of amity between them. This is repeated four times, each time the betal nut is discarded in a different direction: North, East, South, West. This signifies warding off of bad luck and dispersing of evil spirits to the four corners of the earth. Dukhna By placing her knuckles on either side of the couples foreheads, the groom’s mother symbolically removes all of their sufferring and worldly misfortune (dukh). Then, by cracking her knuckles on her forehead, she symbolically breaks all evil forcces. The groom’s mother purifies the couple with water that is contained in a “gaadhi”(vessel). The water is poured from the “gadhi” onto the feet of the newlyweds to signify their state of blessedness. Sapatia
Two sets of clay plates “Saapatia” are placed in front of the bride and the groom, each containing Moong (bounty of nature), Silver, (material wealth), Sugar(sweetness and hormony), and Turmeric(good health). The couple must break the “saapatia” by stepping on them in order to release the gifts they contain. Traditionally, the first to break the “sapatia” is believed to rule the household. Baandhni
The groom’s mother wraps a protective shawl or “baandhni” over the couple and leads them symbolically to the family home where they formally cross the threshold into their new life. Khobo: The groom’s father presents a “khobo”(tray full of silver coins) to the bride as a symbolic offering of the groom’s family wealth. The bride cups her hand and takess as many coins as she can. In doing so, she is showered with the family’s blessings and wealth. Chero: A younger member of the bride’s family will try to detain the groom’s departurre by holding on to the grooms tie or sleeve while a younger member of the groom’s family will do the same by holding on to the bride’s sari border(chero). They will demand a ransom before the bride and groom can take their respective place in the family