Afghan Weddings

  • Afghan wedding traditions
      Emmanuel / 5 Comments / 185 Views

      Afghan weddings are unique and modern celebrations of the people of Afghanistan. It is a tradition in which, like King Amanullah Khan and Queen Soraya Tarzi, the bride and groom whom are respected as King and Queen of the night. This was also the custom in the wedding of Aminullah's cousin to whom he placed down his sword, and kneeled to the ground and told the bride and groom that their wedding night was truly respected, they can make any command as a king and Queen for the night.

      To welcome guests entering the door, a line of women stand on the right and a line of men on the left. The bride and groom's families greet and escort the guests to their tables. Guests in an Afghan wedding are dressed in their best clothes and jewelry. The guests gather around their loved ones and talk about their lives. When all guests have arrived or when the room is about half full the musicians starts playing traditional music or contemporary hits. At the downstage corner are the decorative chairs for the bride and groom. In front of the chairs is a table with highly decorative ensemble that includes candles and flowers.

      A traditional Afghan wedding usually begins around 5:00 pm and ends usually at 2 am, or as long as it has been agreed with the hall. In the middle of the wedding, around 8:30 pm, a special song is sung called "Ahesta Boro and in pashto pa besmillah qadam rawakhla," meaning "walk slowly," which commemorates the bride and groom's arrival. While the song is played like the Wedding March in American weddings, everyone begins to stand up and smile until the groom and bride are set in their place. While the bride and groom walk down the aisle, the Quran (Holy Islamic Scripture) is held upon the new couples head.


      This is a religious Islamic marriage ceremony in which a marriage contract is agreed upon. It is traditionally held in private with the gathering of the couple's immediate family and is led by an Islamic clergy, the mullah. In Afghan weddings, the bride and groom are traditionally kept in separate rooms. The bride is represented in the Nikah by her father or a close male relative. The Nikah is negotiated before the mullah between the groom and bride's representative. Once the groom has accepted the terms of the marriage, the mullah then comes before the bride and asks three times if she accepts the marriage. Once the bride accepts, they are pronounced husband and wife. After the Nikah is complete, the bride and groom enter the wedding hall and the traditional song "Ahesta Boro", which literally translates to "Walk Slowly" in Persian, is played. After food is served, there are a number of traditions that take place, one of which is known as "Aina mosaf"[2] where the bride and groom are covered with a decorative shawl under which they are given a passage to read from the Quran together followed by a decorated mirror to view themselves for the first time as a married couple. In the past decades, this would have been the first time that the bride and groom would have seen each other's faces due to their marriage having been arranged. The shawl is then lifted and the bride and groom feed each other “Maaleda” also spelled "Malida",[3] an Afghan dessert made from bread crumbs, followed by intertwining their arms and offering each other a sip of a beverage, usually the juice of a fruit. Other traditions include placing henna on the bride and grooms hand and cutting of the wedding cake.

      The next song that follows is “Hena Beyarin ba Dastash Gozarain” and Henna ("Kheena" by Afghans, a dark-red colored dye which leaves an orange-red color on the skin) is placed on their hands.


      Historically, little incisions were cut into the bride and groom's palms so that they could be joined in blood. As time progressed it was replaced with henna (also spelled as hennah). Henna is a plant and which is use for dying hair, fingernails, leather, and wool. Henna is considered more sanitary and less messy. At this moment a girl dressed in traditional Afghan clothes would come through the door with a silver tray with candles and an assortment of fresh flowers with little containers of henna dancing and twirling all the way to the bride and groom. The mother of the groom would place a teaspoon full of henna onto the bride's palm and cover it with a triangular cloth made of fine and shiny fabric. The bride's mother would place the henna on the pinkie finger of the groom and likewise cover it with the fabric.


      After about 1 hour of the Bride and Grooms first walk down the aisle, the newlyweds then stand to get food first. Guest then form a line and walk alongside a decorated buffet, where assorted authentic Afghan foods are presented. From the Shohla e Goshtee to three different varieties of rice called palou and chalou, there are many kinds of kabobs: kebab e chopan, chaplee kebab, teka kebab, shaami kebab, also mantu aushak with authentic Afghan bread, naan will conclude the dinner table. For dessert firnee, sheer brenj (rice pudding) and baklava with fruits of the season are served. After the desserts are finished, the bride and groom walk over to the three-story cake and the musician will return to sing the traditional song “Baada Baada Elahee Mubarak Baada - Man dil ba tu dada am Tawakol ba khoda," which means "congratulations, I gave you my heart now I leave it to God" as the couple cut the cake and a family member will cut the cake into small pieces and serve the guests.

      After which comes the hours of enjoyment as the musicians play faster songs and the dance floor fills up as everyone dances till the end of the ceremony which could go on till dawn.


      Attan is the national dance of Afghanistan and the traditional dance among the Pashtuns. It is a circular dance, performed at the end of ceremony, and its origin is dated deep in Afghanistan's pre-Islamic Avesticera. Attan used to be religious dance involve many circles around the fire, some say it was dance of warriors around the fire performed before going to war, although this tradition was lost during the Islamic period, or it has been modified, but soon during 14th century in the midst of Hindukush mountains it became famous. Although in modern Afghan weddings Attan is performed only once, it is traditionally performed twice (at start of the wedding and at its end) and sometimes even more, especially among Pashtuns.