Malabar Moplah Wedding
Rituals of a typical Malabar Muslim (Moplah) wedding as practiced in the coastal belts of Thalassery, Kannur area of Kerala is a tad different from Muslim weddings in other parts of Kerala. Influence of North Indian Muslim and Arabian weddings and can be seen in them. It is due to the region’s Persian and Arabian influence during the medieval periods.
A typical Moplah engagement ceremony called ‘valayidal’ function will be conducted as the groom’s family visits the girl’s house and presents her with a bangle. The marriage date will be fixed on this day and the bride’s family in return gifts the groom with cash and gold. This will be followed by a recital of Quran.
Muslim weddings are elaborate affairs both in terms of feasting and ceremonies. According to old North Malabar tradition, the celebrations start two days before the marriage.
Arikuthu: Close relatives of both the families gather at the respective houses and arrange rice and other cereals for the wedding day. This is also called ‘cheriperukkku’ as in earlier days they used to crush rice in ‘urals’ and pack them together singing songs. Now a day it is done only symbolically with decorated ‘urals’. This will be followed by an elaborate feast with special dishes for the day.
Wedding Eve- Mylanchi Raavu
‘Mylanchi Raavu’ is an elaborate function in North Kerala and is similar to mehndi ceremony in North India.
Haldi- This is a North Indian tradition. The bride and the groom will be at their own houses and their friends and relatives apply haldi (turmeric) on their hands and feet. They sing traditional songs and have fun together while applying haldi. After taking a bath, the bride will be adorned in dazzling attires and with traditional ornaments for ‘Mylanchi’ function.
Mylanchi (Mehendi)- The groom’s sisters along with some female members of the family comes to the bride’s house on the wedding eve. The bride will be dressed ornately and is seated in the middle covering her head and bowed in shyness. They adorn her hands and legs with mehndi designs, singing mappilapattu teasing her and praising her beauty. They also play ‘oppana’. People from the bride’s side put mehndi on one hand and the groom’s people on the other hand. A similar function takes place at groom’s house also. Instead of applying mehndi on hands, it is put on the top of a leaf in his palm.
The intention of this function is to ensure every member from the other side sees the bride and get a chance to have a chat with her before the wedding.
Nikaah-The Muslim wedding ritual called Nikkah is a contract between the groom and the bride’s father. This usually takes place at the bride’s house and the groom arrives accompanied by his family, friends, and musicians.
Bride’s father and the groom exchange vows in front of the Maulvi (religious head) who then reads verses from Quran. As the boy's side proposes, the girl's side conveys her consent which is given in front of witnesses. Men and women are seated separately to watch the event. The groom gives mehar to the bride (money as previously decided) and the contract is registered by nikaahnaama (a document).
A feast is organized to celebrate the event. The bride will be then revealed to the guests and the bridegroom meets each other during this time. Traditionally the bride makes the entrance covered with a ‘mekatti’ and girls singing songs and dances in a procession. The couples are allowed to see each other through a mirror first. The bridegroom will be given a glass of milk to drink together. The guests convey their wishes and blessings during the grand reception.
Rukshat- The bride's family bids her farewell and her father gives her hand to her husband telling him to take care of her. The parents of the bride accompany her with fruits and sweets (nalla vaathal).
The groom's mother welcomes the bride holding Quran as she enters the house. The groom’s family hosts the valima (wedding reception) on the night after the wedding which will also be a grand one.