Wedding in Dagestan: Learn About Unusual Customs Including Nikah

Marriage ceremony in Dagestani Weddings. What is nikah?

Weddings 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. All details of the wedding are planned from the birth of a child. 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. Caucasian but particularly Dagestani wedding ceremonies, are no exception to this rule. 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.

Usually a large crowd is invited for a wedding feast in Dagestan. It can be between 500 to 2000 guests. They come from all over the village and all over the world.

Usually, an arrangement is made with the parents of the bride and a mahr (dowry) is paid to them. This tradition is observed to this day and can even strengthen people’s economic standing.

In the past, the Daghestani 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 in Daghestan are preserved to a greater extent in rural areas. For example, nikah. Nikah is an Islamic ceremony of marriage, it is an essential part of Muslim marriage. Therefore, to perform nikah is compulsory for any muslim who wants to live in lawful marriage unity.

Daghestani custom 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.

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.

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 (marriage according to Islamic rules). It is called nikah ( another variation of spelling is nikaah ). After the nikah 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. In Dagestan it is a symbol of good family ties, love, care and homage.

In true Caucasian style, the table is generously covered with traditional, national food and drink such as shashliki, hinqal, kurze etc..

With cultural weddings there are lots of singing and dancing, while with religious marriage ceremonies it may be practised, but in a moderation. 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. As an example, the writing can be: “on the first day of family life,” “on the birth of the first child” or “on your silver wedding anniversary.It is preferable to give cash money for a gift at a Dagestani wedding.

The wedding finishes late in the evening. After the wedding ceremony, all guests go to the groom’s place. 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.

For Caucasian weddings, it is normal that the wedding feast lasts for a few days – it all depends on the finacial situation and social status of the families of both the bride and groom.

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