Weddings Are about Celebrating Traditions
By Azher Quader
As the wedding season warms up and young people all over the country sign up the nikah papers, exchange wedding vows and begin their new life together, there is a lot of celebrating and indulging by families as they submit to a tradition that for centuries has stood the test of time. Some do this in the somber space of a mosque with little noise and fanfare. Others do it in glitzy banquet halls with extravagance and elegance that dazzles the senses.
Whether it is a one-day event or a week-long affair it is a time of great joy and significance just the same. Indeed as America struggles to preserve its losing grip on matrimony, it is encouraging to witness more and more Muslim youth deciding to take the plunge and commit to live together as husband and wife.
At Community Builders we appreciate this trend, recognize its importance and wish to take a moment to reflect on what weddings are all about and what they mean, as we try to merge our past with our present, our modernity with our heritage, our emerging Western existence with our Eastern cultural identity.
While some may frown on the expense of large gatherings and multi-day celebrations, we tend to believe that these gatherings and celebrations do serve a larger purpose and fill a growing need within our community. We believe weddings big or small, simple or spectacular, all remind us of enduring traditions, provide platforms for great networking, strengthen the fabric of our social life, create opportunities for personal commitments and leave lasting memories for those who participate in them.
Here are what we believe weddings represent. Some of you, we hope will agree with us.
Weddings are about celebrating traditions
About manje and sanchak , about nikah and valima. Weddings are about wearing dupattas and sathladas, lachaas and karan phool. Weddings are about spreading masnads and adorning kishtis. Weddings are about garlands of jasmines and bouquets of roses, about indulging in makeups and putting on mehndi, about showering petals and spraying perfumes. Weddings are about elegant sherwanis and colorful turbans, about badam ki jaali and tasty biryanis. Weddings are about exchanging gifts and exchanging rings. Weddings are about trendy garments and glittering stages, about golden couches and ruby runners. Wedding are about barats and buffets, about music that stirs the soul, about lyrics that linger in the heart. Weddings are about playing pranks and getting up to dance. Weddings are about getting to know the wisdom of a culture and the meaning of traditions.
Weddings are about networking
Weddings are about preparing lists and making calls. About cousins reaching out to cousins lost in the pages of some old address books. About the young ones getting to learn about the old ones. About embracing new friendships and renewing old bonds. About opening new doors and building new bridges. About exchanging addresses and updating emails. About casual chatter that probes the present. About timeless talk that brings back the past. About enlarging the circle, expanding the horizons, exploring the possibilities with an ever watchful eye for match making.
Weddings are about promises and prayers
Weddings are about two hearts coming together to promise love and caring. Two travelers promising to share the joys and the burdens of a journey ahead. Two soul mates promising to honor their differences, promote their strengths, cover their weaknesses. Two dreamers promising to build castles in the clouds, to reach for the stars, to go where they have never been before. Two hopefuls promising to break barriers, cross boundaries, build bridges that last a lifetime. Two individuals promising to change roles, make commitments, accept responsibilities.
Weddings are about praying for the newly weds, for their health and happiness, for their wealth and wisdom, for their success and prosperity. Praying for their life in faith spent in the pursuit of Divine Directives. Praying for His Mercy and His Protection to shower upon them. Weddings are about sailing our ships into unchartered seas, neither fearful of the winds of change nor the eye of the storm. Weddings are about having faith in the power of the Divine, that with His Mercy and Protection our ships will surely cruise from harbor to distant harbor encountering peace and tranquility.
Weddings are about knowing family
Weddings are about knowing the power and promise of family. About discovering relationships often lost in the crowded clutter of our daily lives. About the old ones we fail to keep in touch, about the young ones we don’t even know exist. Weddings are a time to learn, to reconnect and to grow. Weddings are a time to know who we are and where we come from.
Weddings are about creating memories
Weddings are about creating memories. Some will soon fade, others will endure and play their soft music in the recesses of our minds. The sights and sounds, the touch and taste, the pranks and plays, all will find their place in the crowded canvas of this family tradition. Each one of us will gather a piece of this great tradition and cherish it as a keepsake for the rest of our lives.
May we continue to preserve this magnificent tradition and learn to benefit from it. (The author is Executive Director of Community Builders Chicago)