The Muslim Bride Special Wedding Feature: Sana and Shahzeb’s Mayoun/Manjha Event
Asalaamu Alaikum Everyone! As promised earlier, we are sharing with you our experience of wedding planning and attending our sister and new found brother (also TMB team members’) Sana and Shahzeb’s wedding events. The events took place in the slightly cold winter of December 2011. If any of you were praying for snow in the third week of December in Michigan and you were sad that it didn’t happen, we apologize. It was most likely due to all the female members of our family especially mom and grandma praying really hard for it to not happen. Yes it was us, we prevented the Snow Man from happening. But seriously, those of you who have never been to cold and snow ridden lands have no idea how breezy things can be when you are adorned in your traditional fine Southeast Asian outfits! Regardless of the cold and the usual family drama, Alhumdulilah wedding planning went well and all of their wedding events turned out simply wonderful! By the way at this point, we would like to mention that if you don’t agree with non-religious, wedding related cultural events then please don’t read or watch any further (we mean no offense, just want to give a heads up since we understand different religiosity levels).
So we start this series by bringing you Sana and Shahzeb’s Mayoun/Manjha event adventures. Mayoun or Manjha for those who don’t know, is a pre-wedding usually women only event. It is a very old traditional Indian and Pakistani cultural wedding (not religious) event where the bride-to-be and family wear yellow and have a celebration in the house a couple of days before the main ceremony. This is one of the first main pre-wedding event and in a way marks the official beginning of the main wedding events leading up to the religious ceremony. Mayoun/Manjha night usually involves the start of the evening with a Dars (Islamic discourse) followed by Rasms (customs) where family member mostly elders and friends make the bride eat something sweet, put a little Henna and Ubtan on her hand, put fresh flower garlands on her and give her gifts. After all that you get to eat a delicious dinner. Once everyone is settled with food then begins the singing session where everyone sing wedding songs to the drumbeats of Dholak. Later depending on the group of people there might even be dancing. While all this is going on, girls are treated to getting henna on their hands as well. Not sure about everyone but in our family a Henna treat is considered a gift from the Bride and family. Of course later there is a second round of food where traditional desserts are served and hot chai is offered as well.
By the way in case you’re wondering, why the color yellow for outfits? See our little blurb on the cultural tradition at the very bottom of the post. Right now we want to move along and request you to grab your tea or coffee and listen to a story first. Ready? So long time ago there was a little girl who loved her Barbies, all her neighborhood kids and all things magical. When this little girl turned sixteen she dreamed of having a big fat traditional Pakistani wedding with month long festivities. As she grew up a little more, her dreams were further enhanced by Disney and Bollywood (not really helpful). Enter all things sparkly, musical and more magical! Many years went by but one day out of the blue she finally found her prince. A few months later in a land very far far away when she did get married nothing really happened the traditional way. They had a simple Nikah religious ceremony (how it should be) but had to wait for her Rukhsati (Giving away) until the prince could come to her land to take her away. After many months of laments and a very long separation period, finally that day did come Alhumdulilah. That all grown up little girl, Sana went crazy with joy and decided to still have a couple of the cultural events so she could give her friends and family in her land a chance to celebrate, wear their beautiful traditional outfits with jewelry and take lots of pictures (of her’s of course).
Aww…now that you feel all warm and cozy, we would like to take you on a visual journey of the day of the Mayoun/Manjha. In the first one photograph, you see us sisters and cousins of Sana gather in the foyer of the house to line up and get ready to make an entrance. To create an ambiance and get everyones’ attention, we entered in a procession style and brought the bride under a beautiful red veil with a border of gold gota (lace). Just so you know the area under which a bride is brought and sits is also known as Mandap according to our Dadi Ami (Paternal Grandma).
We further set the mood with the old classical Urdu song where the bride is singing Meray nehar se aaj mujhe aya, meray nehar se aaj mujhe aya, yeh peela jora, yeh peela jora, yeh hari hari choorhiyan, (Literally translated: Today I received from my parent’s house, today I received from my parent’s house, this yellow outfit, this yellow outfit, these green green bangles). In the following photograph, Sana wearing a yellow colored Khada Dupatta, the traditional Hyderabadi joda (outfit) makes an entrance.
Lights, colors and action! Inspired by Sana’s story there were two words constantly in our heads when wedding planning, sparkly and magical! No matter how things evolved during the planning stages we knew those were our two main ingredients to make it seem like her dream world. Her outfit’s yellow and red colors worked as an inspiration in terms of coming up with a color theme. During the planning stages, we went through a lot of discussions and sketches but things changed when out of the blue we discovered a luggage full of traditional Pakistani decor stuff in our storage! Surprisingly since most of us didn’t know, the luggage was brought for us during our late Nani’s (Maternal Grandma) last trip from Pakistan a couple of years ago. At that point, weddings were no where in sight so we were very blessed and touched by the gift she left us behind. Luckily the color of the decor stuff worked with our yellow and red theme so we decided to work with all the treasure we had found.
The following is one of our favorite shots of Sana surrounded by magical lights and red and yellow floral decor and with her long sheer net ghoonghat (veil) covering her face.
After the bride’s entrance we had the Dars (A religious talk on something related to the topic of wedding and couples starting a new life). The next photograph was taken towards the end of the Dars when prayers were taking place. Thanks to our official photographer, Ayesha Khan who provided us with some beautiful shots throughout all the events.
Once the Dars ended, we brought in the groom for a little bit and had the Rasms for both bride and groom together. Here you can see our Dadi Ami (Paternal Grandma) getting ready to do some Rasm (traditional cultural customs) on the bride and groom. Each are fed with a little piece of sweet Misri (crystal looking thing) or Mithai (sweets). Then each are applied with a little bit of Henna (dark brown) and Ubtan (light brown). The Little tiny bottle containing Ittar or Attar (Natural sweet smelling perfume oil) is also applied on hands. And finally flower bracelet were put on the hands of the bride and garlands (home made in our case) were put around the necks of both the bride and groom, Sana and Shahzeb. What we really find interesting in this shot are the old traditions taking place along side the new traditions such as the current norm of including distant relatives in your special moment through Skype or Face Time on your iPhone.
Finally after the Rasms were over, everyone got to eat some delicious Middle Eastern food. We decided to try different cuisines for each night instead of eating the same heavy Pakistani food each day.
After dinner everyone got served to a tasty and pretty cake that was specially brought in by our cousin for the couple. As you can see there were other traditional desserts there as well.
Once everyone had their dinner and desserts, the ladies (mostly moms) gathered again to sing wedding songs on Dholak (musical drum looking instrument) and those who couldn’t just clapped away (mostly the youth and kids who don’t know or are too shy to sing in the Urdu language). Here songs book are printed in Roman Urdu so everyone can read it but sometimes the songs are in Roman Punjabi and that can be a challenge if you don’t know the language. Some of us usually get excited and participate in the singing of all kinds of songs, Urdu (new and old with the Farsi words) and popular Punjabi ones too but half way through you ask yourself, really why? You want to stop but for some reason you can’t so you keep singing. Ultimately you reach a point where you have no idea what you are singing about but as they say, the show must go on so you just sing along and try to make up for ruining a language by clapping really hard! Sorry, did we just digress? Ahem, let’s go back.
So while most moms and girls were busy singing songs and clapping away, in the other end of the room, girls took turns getting henna on their hands by one of our friends and favorite Henna Artist, Sumeyya of Henna Craze. We have to say that perhaps this is the first time we came across a henna paste that actually smelled good! Normally people (mostly boys) run away due to all the chemical smells but Sumeyya’s henna is actually natural and has this sweet henna and lavender smell that doesn’t make you want to throw up!
To our surprise, one of our close family friend even brought some party favors filled with candies and other traditional goodies for all of us!
After quite a few hours the party finally came to an end. Sana was happy that her Mayoun/Manjha event turned out just the way she had imagined and Shahzeb was very happy with everything as well (especially the part where he didn’t have to wear yellow).
The house was also showered with a ton of traditional Southeast Asian dessert, Mithai or sweets! Some were homemade by mother, aunts and friends and some were brought over as gifts. This included the infamous Hyderabad Deccan delicacies such as Badam Ki Jaali (Almond dessert), Kajoo ke louz (Cashew dessert) and Hyderabadi Badam ka Halwa (Almond Halwa). Some other favorite desserts included Mithai such as Motichoor ladooss, Barfi and Besan ke ladoo and a ton of different variety of the traditional Middle Eastern dessert, Baklava!
This brings us to the end but if you’re still wondering, why the color yellow for outfits? Well we think it is most likely symbolic of the color of “ubtan” a yellow paste made with different herbs, turmeric and sandal. It has been used traditionally for the beautification of the skin of brides before their wedding ceremony. Back in the days, the bride would be required to stay in the house for a month and wasn’t allowed to see the groom. Mostly so you can rest up, get a break from all errands and look good for your special day. Later that got changed into a week and today here in America it’s just a few hours thing. The brides over here are usually running around till the last minute so the Mayoun break has been replaced with last minute facials and grooming. Traditionally, this event is done with only the close family members but things are a little different these days where you may end up inviting your friends to such a gathering as well. Another thing to note is that traditionally the Mayoun/Manjha was meant just for brides and if the groom’s side did decide to have one, it was kept separately in their own respective homes. But we think it really depends on the family and their own ethnic traditions. According to our grandma though, this should still be a bride only event since they never did it for the boys in their family. In our case though since Sana and Shahzeb already had their Nikah we decided to include him in the craziness for a little bit as well and take some family shots. By the way all these cultural traditions have nothing to do with religion. Whatever the deep significance of these cultural events might have been in the past, for most of us living in America, these events are just another means of taking some time off from our busy lives to gather and celebrate with family and friends under one roof.
Finally we want to mention that we loved all our vendors! We are mentioning the ones from the Mayoun/Manjha event below. In the next couple of posts in this series, you will continue to see more wonderful photography work from Ayesha and beautiful henna work by Sumeyya inshaAllah. We will also mention some of the other amazing vendors that helped us make our other main events possible as well.
Mayoun Event Resources:
Design and Decor – The Muslim Bride Team
Middle Eastern Food – The Shiekh Restaurant, Canton, Michigan
Cake – Ideal Cakes, Canton location, Michigan
Henna Artist – Sumeyya of Henna Craze, Detroit, Michigan
Photographer – Ayesha Khan Photography – Michigan based but open to travel
For anything else you wish to know, please email us and we’ll try to help you out.
All the photographs on The Muslim Bride site are either taken or provided by the artist or the photographer for The Muslim Bride LLC. Any photograph with The Muslim Bride logo were taken by The Muslim Bride team and are hence the property of The Muslim Bride LLC. If you use any photographs from The Muslim Bride website for ideas and inspiration, please cite the source of your inspiration (The Muslim Bride) and give credit where it is due (the photographer or artist who took those beautiful photographs). We will all give you a good dua Insha’Allah. Thank you