The Indian state of Kashmir is situated right in the northern reaches of the sub-continent. A region rich in culture, Kashmir is home to a wide range of ethnicities and religions (though the dominant religion is Islam) – a melting pot which has contributed to some of the more fascinating wedding celebrations to be found on the sub-continent.
An Indian wedding is something of a spectacle, with rituals to be observed in the lead up to the ceremony and after the event as well during the ceremony itself.
Before the wedding
Before a Kashmiri wedding, the tradition of matching the horoscopes is perhaps one of the most important rituals to be carried out. As well as the time and date of birth, the social standing and background of the two families are brought into consideration to ensure that the match is well met.
Once a date has been set, a ‘vanna’ is held – a ceremony formalising the commitment of the bride and groom. Food plays an important role at the vanna as a meal is prepared by the bride’s family. It must include a traditional rice pudding which is offered to guests, and a ‘war’ or traditional oven is set up in the back garden of the house to help cook the food for the wedding.
A week before the wedding takes place, the door of the home is adorned with decorations and the women involved in the ceremony will bathe the bride in a time-honoured ritual.
Bariyans, a flattened cake made from lentils, are served, and a traditional meal is enjoyed by the women who take part.
The big day
As you might imagine, Indian food plays an integral part on the day of a traditional Kashmiri wedding. From the two fathers of the happy couple exchanging nutmeg to the elaborate feast for the guests, a Kashmiri wedding isn’t complete without the sharing of delectable morsels of traditional cuisine .
The Kashmiri wedding menu tends to involve a large amount of dishes – around 25 vegetarian options presented in earthenware pots. Amongst the options on offer, the highlights include: the sweetened rice dish known as Madur Pulao; the potato-based recipe, Dumaalu; a lotus stem and leafy vegetable dish called Nadroo Hakh; and the creamy Shufta, a paneer dish sprinkled with sugar and garnished with nuts. All these dishes represent a special occasion in Kashmir – just the sort of fare that is laid out on the table at festivals, weddings and other celebratory occasions.
Here in the UK, you don’t have to attend a traditional Kashmiri wedding in order to sample authentic Indian food. London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants offer a selection of sumptuous offerings on their innovative menus, combining the very best in traditional flavours with a contemporary twist. Expect meats marinated in spicy masalas and seasonal vegetables, filled with colour and texture. Browse the carefully selected wine lists or sample one of the creative cocktails, infused with the exotic flavours of the East. Whatever your special occasion, be it a wedding, birthday or anniversary dinner for two – book your table and enjoy your own celebratory Indian meal today.