Initial Proposal

The identification of a groom for the girl may be initiated by the women in the family. The women consult with other members of the family or community and identify the grooms who could be a suitable match for the girl. The age, looks, education background, his ability to support his wife and family background are taken into consideration while short-listing the possible grooms for the girl. The women folk then hand over the task of finalising the groom to the men folk in the family. The men then make enquiries about the character and general reputation of the groom and complete the process of selection.

The bride’s father then, communicates his family’s interest in the marriage between the children to the groom’s family. If the communication evokes interest in the groom’s family, a formal proposal of marriage is made by the latter to the father of the bride. When the proposal is formally accepted, the bride’s family will host a party to symbolise the acceptance and underline the fact that the expenses of the bride from date of engagement will be borne by the groom’s family.

If the boy has chosen his bride, he informs his family of his interest in marrying a particular girl. If the bride is of the same community, the father of the groom may make enquiries about the girl, her character, beauty and family background. If satisfied, he may send an elderly relative to the girl’s house with a proposal. If the proposal is acceptable to the girl’s parents, the time and date for the announcement of the match and celebration of the engagement is decided.

As a sign of happiness, sugar and sweets are distributed to the guests in small bags for take away

Dismal/sheerni khori – Engagement

Basically symbolises that both the guy and girl have agreed “Qabool” to get married. Yes the brides family prepares the dismal in a basket(its decorated with chololates, gold and possibly money) and is given to the grooms family as a symbol of their acceptance for the proposal. Traditionally Afghans don’t leave their guests empty handed and as one comes to propose the girl’s side hands over the dismal so the groom doesnt go home empty handed.

Usually the girls side just throws a little party and they dance around with the desmal which is usually kept in a basket. Henna night basically is held by the girls side, it’s where you invite all the afghan ladies you may know and have one huge party. Young girls go all crazy dancing all night. So tradition wise few things happen here, initially nuqul is placed in the bride to be’s hand and she holds it as tight as possible on her head. The groom then tries to open her hand so that he can put the ring on her finger. The whole purpose of this is to tease one another, so I believe.

Since it’ss called the henna night, seven virgin girls place henna on the brides hand, no idea why seven virgin girls, but hey it’s a tradition so everyone follows it :) As with the guy he doesn't miss out either. He gets henna applied on to his small finger, also known as the pinky finger, and a circle in the middle of his palm. The henna is then carried around to all the ladies at the party and everyone applies henna on them selves.

All of the above is prepared by the brides side.

Wedding Day

Afghan weddings are unique and modern celebrations of the Afghan people. It’s a tradition in which, like majesty Amanullah Khan and Queen Soraya Tarzi, the bride and groom are respected as King and Queen of the night. This was also the custom in the wedding of Aminullah’s cousin to whom he placed down his sword, and kneeled to the ground and told the bride and groom that their wedding night was truly respected, they can make any command as a king and Queen for the night. To welcome guests entering the door, a line of women stand on the right and a line of men on the left. The bride and groom’s families greet and escort the guests to their tables. Guests in an Afghan wedding are dressed at their best in expensive clothes and jewelry. The guests gather around their loved ones and talk about their lives. When all guests have arrived or when the room is about half full the musicians starts playing traditional music or contemporary hits. At the downstage corner are the decorative chairs for the bride and groom. In front of the chairs is a table with highly decorative ensemble that includes candles and flowers. A traditional Afghan wedding usually begins around 6:00 pm and ends usually at around midnight. In the middle of the wedding, around 8:30 pm, a special song is sung called “Ahesta Bero” and in pashto “pa besmillah qadam rawakhla” meaning “walk slowly,” which commemorates the bride and groom’s arrival. While the song is played like the Wedding March in American weddings, everyone begins to stand up and smile until the groom and bride are set in their place.

Nikah

Also spelled as Nikah, is a religious Islamic marriage ceremony in which a marriage contract is agreed upon. It is traditionally held in private with the gathering of the couple’s immediate family and is led by an Islamic clergy, the mullah. In Afghan weddings, the bride and groom are traditionally kept in separate rooms. The bride is represented in the Nikah by her father or a close male relative. The Nikah is negotiated before the mullah between the groom and bride’s representative. Once the groom has accepted the terms of the marriage, the mullah then comes before the bride and asks three times if she accepts the marriage. Once the bride accepts, they are pronounced husband and wife. After the Nikah is complete, the bride and groom enter the wedding hall and the traditional song “Ahesta Bero”, which literally translates to “Walk Slowly” in Persian, is played. After food is served, there are a number of traditions that take place, one of which is known as “Aina mosaf” where the bride and groom are covered with a decorative shawl under which they are given a passage to read from the Quran together followed by a decorated mirror to view themselves for the first time as a married couple. In the past decades, this would have been the first time that the bride and groom would have seen each others’ faces due to their marriage having been arranged. The shawl is then lifted and the bride and groom feed each other “Maaleda” also spelled “Malida” an Afghan dessert made from bread crumbs, followed by intertwining their arms and offering each other a sip of a beverage, usually the juice of a fruit. Other traditions include placing henna on the bride and grooms hand and cutting of the wedding cake. The next song that follows is “Hena Beyarin ba Dastash Gozarain” and Henna (“Kheena” by Afghans, a dark-red colored dye which leaves an orange-red color on the skin) is placed on their hands.

Henna

Historically, little incisions were cut into the bride and groom’s palms so that they could be joined in blood. As time progressed it was replaced with henna (also spelled as hennah),henna is a plant and which is use for dying hair, fingernails, leather, and wool. considered more sanitary and less messy. At this moment a girl dressed in traditional Afghan clothes would come though the door with a silver tray with candles and an assortment of fresh flowers with little containers of henna dancing and twirling all the way to the bride and groom. The mother of the groom would place a teaspoon full of henna onto the bride’s palm and cover it with a triangular cloth made of fine and shiny fabric. The bride’s mother would place the henna on the pinkie finger of the groom and likewise cover it with the fabric.

Meal

After hours of dancing, dinner is announced, and the guests form a line and walk alongside a decorated buffet, where assorted authentic Afghan foods are presented. From the Shohla e Goshtee to three different varieties of rice called palou and chalou, there are many kinds of kabobs: kabob e chopan, chaplee kabob, teka kabob, shaami kabob, also mantu aushak with authentic Afghan bread will conclude the dinner table. For dessert firnee, sheer brenj and baghalua with fruits of the season are served. After the desserts are finished, the bride and groom walk over to the three-story cake and the musician will return to sing the traditional song “Baada Baada Elahee Mubarak Baada – Man dil ba tu dada am Tawakol ba khoda,” which means “congratulations, I gave you my heart now I leave it to God” as the couple cut the cake and a family member will cut the cake into small pieces and serve the guests. After which comes the hours of enjoyment as the musicians play faster songs and the dance floor fills up as everyone dances till the end of the ceremony which could go on till dawn.

Attan

Attan is the national dance of Afghanistan and the traditional dance among the Pashtuns. It is a circular dance, performed at the end of ceremony, and its origin is dated deep in Afghanistan’s pre-Islamic Avesticera. There are three different kinds of attan in Afghanistan, “wardaki” “logari” and “khosti” Wardaki consists of body movements no clapping and lots of turns and twists. “logari” uses the clapping and the full turns in place as well as the main turn. “khosti” is interesting because of the head movements the head is snapped side to sides as their long jet black hair fling through the air. Attan used to be religious dance involve many circles around the fire, some say it was dance of warriors around the fire performed before going to war, although this tradition was lost during the Islamic period, or it has been modified, but soon during 14th century in the midst of Hindukush mountains it became famous. Although in modern Afghan weddings Attan is performed only once, it is traditionally performed twice (at start of the wedding and at its end) and sometimes even more, especially among Pashtuns.

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