Night of festivity

The Mehendi ceremony on the eve of the wedding is the most festive of all the ceremonies with singing going on till late in the night. AliyaBashir reports

As the bride was brought inside a hall, her friends and relatives flanked her. A large number of women started singing Kashmiri wedding songs:  ‘Aze chea hooray maenzerath, maenz lagav kaman kamn, maenzi naman Mubarak.’ In the traditional wanvun, females divided into two groups sing wedding songs in chorus.

Nuzhat Ara of Ali Kadal Srinagar was married last month.

She was wearing a yellow embroidery salwar-kameez and artificial jewellery with light-make on her mehndi raat. She was stunningly beautiful but she wanted to look best the next day – her wedding day. “On my wedding I used Arabic designs on my hands with full arms and feet. The designer was a parlour girl who took more than six hours to do the mehndi (henna) work and charged me Rs 4000,” she smiles. It is believed that mehndi signifies the strength of love in a marriage and that the longer a bride retains the mehndi, the more auspicious would be her future.

The Mehndi ceremony is the inaugural pre-weddings ceremonies in Kashmir which is held both at the girl’s as well as the boy’s home. In the past, it was considered the mehndi ceremony was restricted to women only but these men also join it.

The boy’s family also sends mehendi to the bride’s home and some of it is applied to the bride. Sweets, packed mehendi and bangles, ribbons, rubber bands is distributed among the guests.

Young girls mostly sung Hindi songs and tried to compete with the other side while as older women sang traditional Kashmiri songs. The singing went on till late in the night.

Brides decorate their hands and feet with elaborate and intricate designs of henna. The more intricate designs take anywhere between four to six hours. In today’s time, mehndi ceremony is performed in style and with pomp and show.

Throughout the ceremony, the whole family indulges into great festivity and merrymaking. During the ceremony, it is not only bridegroom who applies Mehndi on their hands but all the females in the party. The mehendi ceremony is also held at the boy’s home. A token application of henna on a groom’s little finger is all that males have to do with the mehendi raat. It has been, and still is, a predominantly women’s festival.

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