Bohra/Bohri Wedding Planners in Los Angeles and San Francisco
Dawoodi Bohra, often shorted to the Bohri community, is a sect of Ismaili Muslims and is comprised of individuals of mostly Indian descent. The Bohri community is one which thrives on traditional customs, regulations, and is a culture in which marriage is revered and emphasized. Much like other aspects of the Bohri customs, a marriage within the Dawoodi Bohra community requires permission and approval of the religious leader.
Mandvo is a pre-wedding ritual that occurs a few days before the wedding. This ceremony requires coconut, chopped dried fruit falool, nazral-maqam which is a few coins pledged on a particular saint to keep evil eye away, to be packed together in a red cloth and the ends of this cloth are tied in betel nut. The cloth itself is called a mandvo and it is tied at the entrance of the bride and groom’s respective houses by their paternal and maternal uncles. As such, after the placing of the mandvo in front of the entrances, the bride and groom are not allowed to leave their homes until the day of their wedding.
The ritual of manek thamb consists of a small wooden stick which is the manek thamb being placed in a red handkercheif in addition to a flower garland and nazral -maqam and tied with yellow strings. Then, a young girl who has not yet reached the age of puberty places this on the right side of the entrance of the house.
Beating of the Katha
The beating of the katha is a ceremony that requires specific ingredients to be brought in a red handkerchief. As such, these ingredients are: coconuts, catechu, betel nut, cardamom, turmeric, camphor,chital chini , red and yellow strings and jasmine oil. This katha ceremony is performed both for the bride and groom, though separately. During this ceremony, the maternal and paternal aunts sit facing each other and the katha ingredients which are then dividied into four equal parts are placed in a pestle and crushed. The relatives that participate in this ceremony receive generous gifts. Additionally, the katha is then disposed of in mud or water.
The mama, the maternal uncle of the bride and groom perform the ceremony of mosala, which in essence is getting the bride and groom ready. The mama dresses the groom during which he presents him with buttons and a flower garland. After this, he ties the safa which is a traditional Bohri turban around the groom’s head and helps him put on his shoes. Similarly, the bride’s mami, the wife of the mama, dresses the bride in a lehenga and helps her put on her sandals. Then, four relatives, either faiji or sisters, place mehndi sticks on the right palms of both groom and bride which is a symbolic ritual. To culminate the ceremony, the uncle gives gifts to all members of the family.
The last of the pre-wedding rituals, and one of the most important rituals, the perahmni is a ceremony in which the groom’s mother gives gifts to the bride. The groom’s family gifts the bride her bridal outfit that she is to wear on her wedding day. During this ceremony the bride’s family provides the groom’s family sweetened drinks such as sherbet, sweet milk, or cool drinks.
The nikkah, actual wedding in Islamic marriages, is the wedding ceremony celebrated by the Bohris. On a particular date that has been fixed, four male members from the groom’s family invite the relatives of the brides family with gifts. Two members of the bride’s family which are chose by her, act as her witnesses, vali. Then, the willingness of the bride and groom to marry is stated along with the amount of the meher, which is an amount of money the bride requests of the groom on her wedding day. This custom is seen as a gift from the groom, but also acts as a protection for the bride should anything happen to the marriage. The priest then reads the nikkah and recites passages of solemnization, during which the bride’s father holds the groom’s hand. As such, these three rituals are mandatory for the nikkah to be solemnized.
The clothing the bride and groom are to wear on their wedding day is also decreed by Bohri customs. As such, the groom wears a traditional white kurta and pyjama along with a long overcoat which is called a saya. He wears on his head a pheta, a stitched turban which is decorated with a feather stick, sar pech. The groom also wears a religious locket, a takhti, a pearl or flower garland, along with a dushala, which is a piece of un-stitched cotton embroidered zari cloth interwoven with velvet which is worn to cover his left hand. On his right arm, he wears a strip of velvet maroon cloth, a bazzo bandh inscribed with the names of the of the five holiest saints of Dawoodi Bohra known as Panjatan Pak. Accordingly, the bride wears a lehenga and is adorned with intricate mehendi and gold jewelry. Additionally, within her wedding trousseau, the bride will find a richly embroidered rida, a decorative form of the traditional burqa, which is the customary attire for the Bohri women.
Post Wedding Traditions
After the nikkah, the meher amount is given to the guardian, or the wali, of the bride. Two men of the groom’s family go to the Toran, where the bride sits to present the meher to her. The Toran consists of misri, coconut, beetle leaves, seven full pieces of supari, flower garland, rich garments and gold ornaments.
After the nikkah, the salaam, an important ritual in which is the paying of the respects of the elders occurs. The bride and groom do this by kissing the hands of their new mother-in-laws. As such, this act symbolizes that each mother-in-law is accepted as a mother. In turn, the mother-in-law gives gifts to the bride and groom. As customs suggest, when the bride ceremonially performs Salaam to her mother-in-law, she carries a red kerchief with one of its corners wrapped and tied with a silver coin, one coconut, two full pieces of betel-nut and a certain amount of Salaam in money.
After the nikkah, both sides hold great feasts to celebrate the wedding. Before the feasts occur, religious meetins of women, majlis, and religious meetings of men, darees are held to ensure the presence of the Almighty in the events. The reception of the bride at the venue of the feast is a small ceremony in itself. The mother-in-law offers the bride pannu which serves as a welcome gift to the bride that contains in a decorative basket two coconuts, two flower garlands, a small quantity of rice as a good omen, pan-betel nut, one set of rich clothing, a necklace, sweets and a gift for the bride’s best maid. A pair of sandals for the bride is also placed besides the basket, which is the the pair that she will wear to her husband’s home.
After the feast, which is usually fit for a king regardless of financial income, the bride’s mama performs the chhera chheri ritual which consists of tying a red duppatta of the bride to the end of the shawl of the groom, an act that symbolizes their eternal union. The bride then has her vidai or going away and is sent away to her husband’s place with lots of tears and well-wishes.