(about customs in CAUCASUS: weddings and NIKAAH)
About weddings in Dagestan,
Daghestani wedding tradition,
daghestani brides & grooms,
engagements in Daghestan.
Nikah in Daghestani Weddings
Daghestani wedding today: what is nikaah?
Nikaah and Weddings in Daghestan
Like all Caucasian weddings, Dagestani weddings are very raucous affairs. Many guests are invited and there are bags of entertainment. One could say that they are feast for the whole world.
It is common, in the Caucasus , for weddings to be prepared well in advance. They are usually planned from the time a child is born. A dowry is prepared for the children and savings are put aside. Once the joyful day arrives, it is a like a true fairytale.
Nowhere are weddings more joyful and harmonious than in the Caucasus . Dagestani weddings are no exception. It is common to hold two weddings, the first of which takes place in the bride's home, the second of which is held in the groom's home. A Dagestani wedding will typically have from 500 to 1500 guests or sometimes even more. They come from all over the village and all over the world.
It is customary in Dagestan for the bride to be stolen. That is to say it is not only a custom but a variation on the ceremony if the groom's relatives cannot afford an expensive wedding. They steal the bride to economise. Otherwise, an arrangement is made with the parents of the bride and a kalym (dowry) is paid to them. This tradition is observed to this day and can even strengthen people's economic standing.
In the past, the wedding was practised with a kidnapping of the bride. This was if the groom was of a lower class than the bride and could not obtain permission to marry his true love. The “kidnapping” was always carried out with the bride's permission. Nowadays, this tradition is practically extinct and the custom of stealing the bride has become a rarity. However in accordance with tradition, a person's nationality and the village and region in which they live are taken into account when searching for a potential spouse.
Customs and traditions are preserved to a greater extent in rural areas. This is shown, in particular, with regard to respecting one's elders. In accordance with the adat (law), younger siblings do not get married before their elders.
What is Nikaah?
Daghestani wedding's the most important aspect is the correctly performed nikah. Nikah is an Islamic ceremony of marriage, one can called it a tradition while in reality it is an essential part of Islam and Muslim marriage. Therefore, to perform nikaah is compulsory for believing Muslim who wants to live in lawful marraige unity.
There is an age-old custom in Dagestan that the young couple will have a betrothal ceremony before the actual wedding. Here, they can prove their feelings and suitability for one another. The organisers of the wedding will then carry out the wedding ritual, offer to arrange the union, give the bride presents, and agree on a date for the wedding with the parents of the couple. They then announce the proposal to the ZAGS (Registry Office) and begin the pre-wedding preparations. However, nikah is always the priority for any muslim in Dagestan. Therefore to perform nikah is compulsory and without nikah their marriage unity is not valid.
On the day of the wedding, the bride's parents will say to their daughter “My child, life flashes by in an instant. It comes and it goes. Do not forget to live life to the full.” It is a solemn day for the parents of the bride, since their daughter must leave home.
After the ZAGS, the young couple will visit a mosque for the completion of the Shariah marriage. After the confirmation of the marriage in the mosque the young couple will go and lay down flowers at certain historical monuments. From here, they will go to a hall for the celebrations. The wedding begins with a veneration of couple's parents; the bride and groom thank and pay homage to their parents and bow down to them. This symbolises strong family ties and the humanitarian qualities of love, respect and filial homage.
In true Caucasian style, the table is generously covered with traditional, national food and drink such as shashliki, hinqal, kurze etc.. Toasts are raised and there is much joking and dancing. The young couple are then given presents, money and sweets. On each of the presents, there will be a note that informs the couple of when they can open the present. For example, there may be written: “on the first day of family life,” “on the birth of the first child” or “on your silver wedding anniversary.” Presents usually contain money, letters, envelopes or good wishes.
The wedding finishes late in the evening. After the ceremony, everyone heads to the home of the groom. One of the most poignant moments in the wedding ceremony is when the bride enters the groom's house. On entry, the guests shower her with nuts, sweets and coins. Sometimes the wedding celebrations will last longer than one day if everyone wishes it to and also if there is enough money.
Authors of article "Russian weddings": Lilia & Alice.
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