Kashmiris first match the horoscopes or teknis of the prospective bride and groom. the other factors which are taken into consideration while selecting a match are the background, status and the reputation of the family of the prosepective match. The wedding date is proposed by the bride's parents. Once the groom's parents also give their consent, the purohit fixes the wedding date. The wedding can take place in the morning or in the night. An auspicious time is fixed by the purohit.
Vanna or Formal Engagement
Following the tradition, the elderly persons of both sides meet in temple and exchange flowers as a sign of celebration. In the respective houses of the bride and the groom, the eldest aunt (of the boy and the girl) prepares var (a special rice pudding), which is distributed among the neighbors and relatives. The girl's family sends cash, dry fruits and a pot containing nabad (misri) to the boy's house.
Livun is the traditional cleansing of the house before a wedding. All the married female members of the family attend the ceremony. This is also the day when the waza or family cook arrives and puts together a mud-and-brick oven called war in the backyard of the house. This is where the
traditional meals will be cooked for the wedding ceremonies.
Few days before the wedding, Wanwun or music sessions are held every evening at the houses of both bride and groom.
It involves decorating the door of the houses of the prospective bride and the groom around one week before. Later, in the evening, the bride follows bathing ritual. After the bath, her eldest aunt decorates her hands and feet with maanz or henna. This is followed by a lively wanvun or music session.
Sending of Thaals
In this occasion Bride's family sends 51 thaals to the groom's family. It includes sweets, dry fruit, khajur, ghee, sugar and gota (special mixture made only during Kashmiri weddings).
Phoolon ka Gehna
Before marriage groom's family sends flower jewelry and tinsel to the bride. The girl adorns this jewellery as a symbol of her first shringar.
After praying to god for better of their coming life bride's hands (palms and fingers) and feet are adorned with mehendi (henna) patterns. Mehendi is also applied on groom's hands as a shagun.
Diugun takes place on the morning of the wedding day. The elders in the respective families apply a paste of curd, gram flour (besan) and saffron to the bride and groom's heads. Then the bride and the groom take a bath (separately in their own houses). The parents of the bride give her jewelry, clothes, household items, etc. An essential item of the jewelry is the dijaru, an ear ornament, which is the sign of a married Kashmiri woman
The boy's family sends sanzvaru for the bride. This essentially consists of cosmetics articles, a shawl and paan encased in silver and gold foil. The bride dresses for the wedding using these cosmetics.
The devgon is a ceremony that marks the transition of the bride and the groom from brahmacharya ashram to grihastha ashram. The bride and the groom worship God Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The parents of the bride and the groom perform a havan in their respective houses. In the case of the bride, first there is the kansihran ceremony. Young girls hold a veil over the bride's head and relatives shower a mixture of water, rice, milk, curd and flowers.
Relatives assist the bride and the groom, as they dress for the occasion in convoluted wedding stuff. The groom's paternal uncle helps him to tie the gordastar (turban). A gold thread is used to tie a peacock feather to the gordastar.
Welcoming the Marriage
The fathers of the bride and the groom exchange jaiphal or nutmeg symbolizing the solemnization of the relationship with a promise of a life-long friendship. The groom and bride stand on the vyog that has been specially created for the event. The eldest female member of the family feeds nabad to the bride and the groom. The couple is led by the family purohit to the door. He performs a small ceremony here called dwar pooja before leading them to the lagan mandap.
Purohit performs the rituals in front of a holy fire. One of the rituals, aathwas, requires the couple to cross their arms and hold hands in this position. Their hands are covered with a cloth. According to an interesting Kashmiri folklore, the first to be able to pull out the engagement ring of the other will be the one to play a dominating role in the relationship. A mananmal or golden thread is tied to their foreheads. The left foot of the bride and groom are placed on a kajwat or grinding stone. The first phera around the sacred fire is made by stepping on seven one-rupee coins. There are a total of seven pheras. The bride and groom feed each other some rice at the end of the ceremony. This is followed by a vidai ceremony.
The wedding ceremony is followed by a vegetarian dinner. The bride and groom are made to eat from the same plate.
The bride changes into a new sari and jewellery given by her parents. The bride and the groom are again made to stand on the rangoli. A pair of doves are set free.
For the vidaai, the bride and the groom are made to stand on the rangoli. The eldest lady from the bride's family offers the newly wed couple nabad (misri) thrice and kisses their foreheads. As the bride leaves her parent's house, she throws a fistful of raw rice over her shoulder in the direction of that house. This symbolises that prosperity may continue to remain in the home she leaves. She carries some more rice in her other hand which is scattered at the doorstep of her new home. This symbolises that she brings prosperity to her new home.
The bride's parents perform a Havan thanking God for enabling them to successfully discharge their duties. Only after this do the parents break their fast.
The groom's mother performs the Dwaar Puja (which was earlier conducted by the girl's mother). A pair of doves are again set free. In a playful moment, the groom's pof remand cash/jewellery in return for letting him bring the bride in the house.
The bride is now made to change into a new sari and jewellery given by her in-laws. Atahru, which consists of several strands of gold/ silver leaf are strung below the dijaru which she is already wearing.
This is equivalent to the modern-day reception held at the girl's place. This day non-vegetarian food is served to all the invitees. Presents for the couple are given on this occasion. It marks off the beginning of a fruitful and happy life for the couple and their families.
Accompanied by her husband and a couple of children from the husband's family, the bride goes to her parents' house. The parents of the bride give the bride a set of new clothes and some salt and cash. The groom is also presented with new clothes including a dusa (six yard pashmina shawl). The bride and the groom change into new clothes before returning to the groom's house.