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Henna Night: Muslim Wedding Ceremony Report

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Updated: May 9th, 2021

Introduction

The selected event is henna night, which is a common private wedding ceremony originally associated with the Turks and Muslim Indians (Vahapoglu, 2016). Currently, the wedding ritual has been induced in other cultures that practice Islam. Henna night is normally held one day to the wedding and normally celebrates the girl who is about to wed. Ideally, the event is for women only. There are no rules on where the event can be held.

Thus, it can be hosted at both the bride’s and the groom’s homes. Vale (2014) notes that over the years, henna night has become more modern and currently echoes a bachelorette party. Despite this, the programmatic aspect of the event is still present. Additionally, the cultural aspect of the different things that occur during the henna night is still observed. This essay outlines the different operations and logistics of this highly programmatic event.

Internal Factors Associated with the Event

Several internal factors can be associated with henna night. The factors can be grouped into culture, purpose, and budget. As stated, the chosen event is a cultural pre-wedding ceremony that occurs one day before the marriage ceremony. The purpose of the event is to bless and beautify the bride, celebrate the upcoming wedding, and also give marriage advice. Before the event starts, a woman whose parents are alive and not divorced or separated is selected to break the henna in a silver or copper bowl.

There are two main cultural implications for this. The first is that the lady that breaks the henna is seen as unblemished as the marriage of his or her parents is deemed strong. Secondly, the henna is normally bought by the groom’s family. The reason for this is to show respect and the invested time and resources in making the girl a part of the family.

After the breaking of the henna, the bride is covered in a veil and escorted to the middle of a circle. A woman who is described to have a happy marriage and is neither separated nor divorced will then apply the previously prepared henna on one hand of the bride. A younger unmarried girl will then apply the same on the other hand. Vahapoglu (2016) notes that there are discrepancies in the application of the henna depending on the region.

In some regions, the henna is first applied to the bride and then to her guests. In other regions, the opposite is true, where the henna is first applied to the guests and then to the bride. After this, many of the guests can leave at their pleasure, leaving behind close family and relatives. The rest of the group will wait for the henna to dry as they enjoy themselves with music and dance.

The guests are usually female and comprise of the bride’s female family members and her friends and neighbors. Henna nights do not attract heavy budgets. The many cases, the budget might range from 10,000 AED and 30,000 AED. The exact budget will be determined by the number of guests and the type of entertainment hired. It is important to point out that some of the items in the budget are catered for by individual family members as a way of appreciating and congratulating the couple.

External Factors Associated with the Event

The primary external factor associated with the event is social and religious. As explained, the henna night is mainly done within the confines of Islam. Therefore, much of the social and religious elements that can be deduced during the event are from Islamic teachings. For example, women who have never been divorced or separated are used for the breaking and mixing of the henna and the application of the same on the bride. Both the breaking of the dry henna and the application of the wet one on the bride is seen as prestigious elements of the event. Thus, women selected to do them are also viewed as prestigious.

In Islamic teachings, whereas there are situations where divorce and separation are allowed, they are often shunned and seen as disgraceful. Therefore, even to the bride, interaction with anyone who has gone through separation or divorce is highly unlikely as she believes it will taint her marriage. Additionally, the bride might desire that the honors be bestowed on specific people. However, her desires are not considered, especially if the people she wants are divorced or separated.

The argument also brings an ethical aspect to the culture. Divorces and separations in marriages are complicated. This is made worse by the fact that Islamic teachings shun such practices. When a marriage fails, the woman is blamed in a majority of the cases. Vahapoglu (2016) explains that rarely do the involved parties (religious leaders and parents) investigate to find out what made the marriage fail.

Some external economic factors can be associated with the event as well. This is especially the case in a caste system, where even though the couple might be wealthy or underprivileged, they are expected to behave in a certain way based on their caste status. For instance, people from a higher caste are expected to have an expensive henna night celebration, while those from humble backgrounds are expected to have a smaller ceremony. This is regardless of whether the couple in the higher class are poor or those in, the lower class are wealthy. Such pressures have led to couples, and their families, going bankrupt in an attempt to make their wedding prestigious.

Forecasts

The henna night will comprise at least 90 people. Close family, friends, and relatives are allowed to invite other female guests on behalf of the bride (Bikramjit, 2015). Since many of the henna night celebrations are held in an outdoor setting, tents, chairs, and décor are needed. Four large tents will be required to accommodate the 90 guests. Additionally, 80 seats and 15 tables will be hired for the event.

If the celebrations are done in the lady’s home, no transportation costs will be incurred. Guests will have to make their way to the said home. However, if the celebrations are done in the groom’s house, vehicles carrying the bride and her close family and friends will be required. Some amount of the money will also go towards food and drinks for the guests. Over the years, couples have invested in having some of their favorite entertainers grace their event. The table below gives a summary of the anticipated budget of a typical henna night.

Item/Description Cost (USD)
1 Décor (inclusive of tents, tables, chairs) 2,000
2 Catering (food and drinks) 4,000
3 Entertainment 3,000
4 Transport 800
5 Home preparation 1000
6 Bride preparation 1000
Total 11,800

Logistics

One has to consider all the logistics involved in the planning of henna night to make it a success. The first logistic to consider is the venue. As stated, the event can be held at either the bride’s or the groom’s home. The decision is usually swayed by the number of guests, ease of access to the venue, and also the couple and family’s preference. Many henna nights are celebrated in an outdoor setting as well, so venues should have a garden. The site should also have ample parking space for the guests. The venue has to be prepared at least one day earlier to allow for a proper presentation. Since the event is done in the home, no reservations are needed.

Accommodation is generally for the bride and her family. The rest of the guests make their accommodation reservations, although the families can recommend hotels nearby for guests that have traveled from far. To ensure privacy, the family can develop a guest list and prepare badges and invites. The invites are to be sent out a few days before the wedding, while the badges are to be distributed on arrival. This will ensure that unwanted and uninvited guests do not come into the event. Communication between the family and the caterers and entertainment crew is also crucial. It has to be timely and precise. The entertainment equipment has to be set up and tested before the event to avoid any mishaps.

Action Plan

To ensure that the event goes as planned, an action plan is required. The table below (the action plan) highlights some of the major things that have to be done and who will be responsible for them.

Activity Period Time of Completion Person Responsible
Purchase of henna Before One day before the event Bridegroom’s family
Venue selection and preparation Before One week before the event Bride and bridegroom’s families and event organizer
Preparation of guest list and distribution of Invites Before Two weeks before the event Bride
Bride preparation (purchase of gown for the event etc.) Before One week before the event Bride
Selecting and engaging with caterers Before Two weeks before the event Bride and family
Selecting and engaging with entertainment crew Before Two weeks before the event Bride and family
Organizing transportation Before Two weeks before the event Bride and bridegroom’s family
Printing of badges Before One week before the event Bride’s family
Cooking and serving guests During The first meal should be one hour after guests arrive. The second meal should be four hours after the first meal. The third meal should be four hours after the second meal. The fourth meal should be four hours after a third meal. Caterers
Distribution of badges During As guests arrive Ushers
Selection of women who will break the henna and paint the bride Before Two days before the event Religious leaders, brides parents, and bridegroom and his family
Painting of the bride During Two hours after the start of the event Selected women and young girl
Removal of décor After Next day Event organizer

Conclusion

In conclusion, the henna night is a highly structured and programmatic event that is mainly done before Islamic weddings. The purpose of the event is to celebrate the bride and the wedding. However, other objectives, such as advising the soon-to-be wife, are included. Over the years, henna night has been modernized to fit the expectations of the modern Muslim woman. However, the core cultural values of the practice are still observed. Some of the things that affect henna night include religious issues, budget, and the guest list.

References

Bikramjit, R. (2015). Islamic perspectives on marketing and consumer behavior: Planning, implementation and control. Hershey, PA: IGI Publishers.

Vahapoglu, E. (2016). The other. London, UK: Anthem Press.

Vale, M. M. (2014). Siwa: Jewelry, costume, and life in an Egyptian oasis. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Henna Night: Muslim Wedding Ceremony." May 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/henna-night-muslim-wedding-ceremony/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Henna Night: Muslim Wedding Ceremony'. 9 May.

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