Thursday, April 28, 2016

Weddings: Celebrations Uniting Families

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Written by Guest Blogger
Zainab Sulemanjee

As Muslims, many festive celebrations and rituals govern our lives. From the colourful clothes on Eid ul Fitr to the mouthwatering delicacies prepared on Eid ul Adha, we love celebrating our rituals with feelings of love, compassion and sharing. Similarly our family celebrations are also a reflection of the religious values and cultural norms present in our religion and society. The one celebration that I feel sets us apart from many other communities and cultures, is our weddings, which are not only vibrant and colourful, but deep rooted in tradition. Weddings in our part of the world are a family affair. From the initial preparation of the bride’s clothes to the food we serve, each and every detail is tended to with intricate care.


I am a working mom. Wedding preparations are joyful but require an immense amount of time, dedication and commitment. Last year, my younger sister was getting married. As the eldest sibling, I was appointed by my mom to supervise all prenuptial affairs and arrangements. Juggling between work, home, my kids and the wedding was very challenging. The invitation list was carefully constructed, cards were printed and dispatched, venue and caterer were booked, gifts for the groom and his family were purchased, the photographer and event management company were finalised, the bride’s clothes and jewelry decided as per theme of each event, and more. I also had to prepare my clothes, keep up with kids’ exams and activities, and create an agenda for guests from abroad. All in a burning hot climate. I was completely drained out before the wedding functions actually began.

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Our weddings generally last a week or two due to the numerous functions from the Milad to Dholki, Mehendi, Sangeet, Barat, Valima and many others which differ in their rituals, dress codes and arrangements. One function is the Mehendi ceremony, symbolised by a bright yellow/ orange colour and beautiful floral d├ęcor. A professional henna artist applies intricate henna on the hands and feet of the bride as a symbol of beauty, happiness and spiritual awakening. I was so preoccupied that I forgot to book a henna artist. Once guests started pouring in, someone mentioned the significance of the henna colour and its application, and realized I had forgotten a key aspect of the celebration. Determined to set things straight, I frantically called a few friends and finally managed to find an available budding henna artist. Since she was the only one I could get my hands on, I readily agreed to her rates. Apprehensive at first about how the designs would turn out, she amazed me with her skilful techniques and modern creativity. After a fun filled evening of music, dance and of course henna, I was relieved that everything went smoothly.  Sometimes it’s for the best that people don’t know everything that happens behind the scenes to pull of celebrations.