The Big Fat Kashmiri Wedding and Stuff

mere hathon me mehndi lagi hai!

There is a very good reason for my disappearance. My cousin is getting married – one of only two boys in our generation on my dad’s side. This is (almost) the last wedding in this generation so we are making the most of it.

Weddings are when I catch up with the extended family. I even get to meet more-than-once-removed cousins now that they are mostly settled outside Kashmir. I am almost caught up πŸ˜€ .

The festivities were kicked off with the livun ceremonies – a day for the symbolic cleaning of the house to welcome family and friends. The only day I remembered to take a picture of our dinner! The doorway was decorated with a colourful floral pattern, and delicious ver (a risotto-like but creamier dish with rice and walnuts) prepared. More family gathered by dinner time to eat, catch up, and sing.

livun dinner
chaaman-kalia (paneer), al-wangun (bottle-gourd cooked with eggplant), razma (red kidneybeans), wazij nadir-monjji (lotus root with kohlrabi and greens red curry), rice, yoghurt and sliced cucumber

Out came the tumbuknaris (a Kashmiri drum) and a nott (metal pot) to provide the beat for the singing of traditional Kashmiri songs. In the background the World T20 2007 India-England match played out quietly, where Yuvraj avenged his bowling statistics by hitting 6 sixes off bad-boy Broad and added to the noisy celebrations. The time: 1am. Thankfully, the apartment below their’s is unoccupied at the moment!

time for some music

It was the auspicious time for the groom to get his mehndi. Yes, even the groom gets to put mehndi in a Kashmiri wedding. They are usually good sports and grin and bear it. The bua (dad’s sister) puts the mehndi after the maasi (mom’s sister) has washed the feet with water. All the festivities are conducted similarly at the bride’s place too, at a time deemed auspicious by their priest.washing feet

The following day the bride’s family hosted lunch for all and there were more silk saris on display. More catching up with cousins…followed by more food . Kashmiris have bought into the whole dessert idea since their dislocation. The ones at lunch were outstanding; there was syrupy jalebi paired with rabdi (thickened milk), pista kulfi with rose flavoured falooda, and (surprise!) caramel custard. No dinner for anybody that night.

A light lunch next day and we were all ready for the mehndiraat. Hors d’oeuvres were filling in themselves and I needed to say “no” pretty soon. To get some mehndi on my hands seemed like the perfect thing to do. I put my name down with the two henna-artist girls and soon had a pretty peacock design on my hand. TH helped me get a plateful of food (and I missed mujj-chatin!): dumaloo, razma, nadir-palak, and chaaman-kalia, followed by gulab jamun for dessert.



The singing and dancing started but was a bit non-traditional and too noisy for me. But then weddings are about sitting down together and having a good time despite the din. Close to 1 am I thought it was time to get my clan together, so up I went to the apartment looking for TH and son, and got sucked into the last two overs of the aforementioned T20 series: this time the India-Australia semi-final. Boy, we kicked some ass! The shocked faces of the Aussie team said it all. The stage it set for the arch-rivals India and Pakistan to meet in the finals on Mon. Some sprinting might be involved ( I can run in a sari, believe me) between the venue where the reception is being hosted that night, and the nearest television set. The cousin did wonder aloud if he should arrange for a big screen…he was joking, but barely.

The Big Fat Kashmiri Wedding will continue, the wedding itself happens in a couple of hours, so I’ll report on it soon….

Part IIΒ 

54 thoughts on “The Big Fat Kashmiri Wedding and Stuff

  1. Hi its wonderful to know abt kashmiri weddings. The food looked delicous. Btw a small correction India won against Australia in semis…;).

    OOps! πŸ˜€

  2. hi anita,
    your blog is great!,just got a message from Bee that you are a Kashmiri and about this beautiful post of yours, well then we have loads to share-please visit me soon at-

  3. Hey Anita,

    Enjoy! and my best wishes to the bride and groom :).I am eyeing that plate! gave me serious cravings for monjji-nadir combo!

    That is your hand, right? Pretty mehndi design :).

    re: non-traditional singing and dancing: Punju people call DJs for “gaaun (sangeet)”…..and now have plenty of non-traditional food too, many a time a huge cake for wedding! atleast you had traditional music for maenzraat. But like you said, being together is what counts most! Been ages since i attended one…..

    Please, please, tell me you can’t actually speak Kashmiri…maenzraat it is!

  4. “chaaman-kalia, al-wangun, razma, wazij nadir-monjji, rice, yoghurt ”
    I am so hungry for the kashmiri food now….my mouth actually is watering….miss ….miss it really πŸ™‚

  5. Boy, you people love your cricket! Even at weddings, it is omnipresent!

    Um, so….where’s the recipe?

    [shakes head at just what this world is coming to…]

  6. Weddings are great! Love that platter of food and the mehandi. All my family and friends are married now. We are waiting for the next generation to get married…..
    Having said that 2 of my friends were recently made grandparents. Eekkk!

  7. And Anita, you sure have some mental strength! After what happened in the World Cup, i haven’t recovered enough to start following cricket again :sigh:

    and close to lunch time, i am looking at the platter again! Made some paneer last night. Chaaman qaliya might be it tonight!

  8. I feel as if I’m watching a show πŸ˜€ Can’t wait to hear more about the wedding… how, if you have to run in the sari to watch the match… all of it. A lot of what you described as the Kashmiri wedding customs reminds me of the weddings in my family. My mom’s side of the family is Hindu.

    The only thing that always got to me about these wedding get-togethers was the all these distant cousins and other relatives that you had to meet and as kids, we were always paraded!

  9. Hey, how wonderful. Please write more about the wedding, the ceremonies and the food. The pictures make the whole event come real…
    Also, could you please let us know the lotus-stem vegetable recipe?


  10. Weddings… somehow I can’t stand those, except for the feast of course… Lucky we mallus have the shortest weddings… πŸ™‚ But it sure looks like you are having fun… Nice hands too πŸ™‚

  11. Oh, this is wonderful of you to share this Anita. You had me laughing out loud at a few points: seeing you trying to keep your plate on your lap steady with one hand mendhi’d, running in your sari …and …and…”we kicked some ass”!!!!!! Oh, dear lord… πŸ˜€

    One more thing: this here wazij dish you got dere… πŸ˜€ please please PLEEEEZ do a post on it?? (!)

  12. Aweseome Mehendi, and that plate looks so yummy. Dishes like i have never seen except for the rajma. I hope you put the paneer, bottlegourd, and the lotus roots recipes up!

    WOW! What a treat for the eyes.

  13. Anita, I’m checking in from Berkeley, CA. I found your blog when looking for recipes.

    The wedding looks so interesting and your mendhi is beautiful.

    I’ll be back for those recipes.


  14. hey anita di,

    the wedding looks like a lot of fun! reminds me of my own wedding last year. since we had the wedding here in the usa, my mom and masi cooked damaloo, nadur yakhni all by themselves for the reception of 450+ people. and cooked rogan josh for the maenzraat. they didn’t trust the indian caterers to cooking authentic kashmiri food. let’s just say our garage was one big waazwan junction! for tumbaknaaris, we used these african drums that look and sound just like the real deal! luckily our kashmiri group is very active here in pittsburgh…so we even got authentic kashmiri music.

    hope you’re still enjoying yourself. looking forward to some kashmiri wedding food recipes!! i would LOVE to get one for ver.

  15. Nice insight to Kashmiri wedding Anita. I love the food that is mentioned here. You seem to be having a feast. Enjoy yourself & good wishes to your cousin.

  16. Oh, dear Anita, thank you for including us in your happy times!
    It is especially kind to those of us with such teeny-tiny families: we can live vicariously through you πŸ˜‰

    I’m glad you treated yourself to mehndi…doing such good work, your hands were already beautiful. But you went and “gilded the lily!” πŸ™‚

    Cheers to you and yours on the happy occasion.

  17. wow! wonderful to know about a Kasmiri wedding..I have a kashmiri friend who is yet to get married..I will get to suprise him now with my knowledge of kashmiri customs and food..:-)

    Came via mahanandi’s blog…good to know yours..

  18. I enjoyed reading your post and learning more about Kashmiri wedding customs. I think wedding customs in particular and in no matter what culture they occur are fascinating and it’s always interesting to observe how tradition combines with modern life: in your case your many sports matches!

    Congratulations on your cousin’s wedding and thanks for the lovely post.

    PS: That first dish looked delicious!

  19. well!!i really enjoyed reading and seeing the pictures!!i am really excited as i am bt to marry a kashmiri guy!!and i m pakki punjaban!!quite a knowledge!thanks

    My pleasure, Mansi!
    The twain shall meet – you have mustard oil in common! πŸ˜†

  20. I just found this post. I love the shot of the family singing and making music, with the cricket on the TV in the background. I even think it is Australia playing!

  21. Hi, saw this post, lovely collecvtion of pics..
    hey do you have any sayings in kashmiri for yagnopavit and marriage, i was looking for saying which i can include in my wedding card πŸ™‚ if you have any , please forward me to my email id.

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