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Journalism of Courage

Amid lockdown, a virtual nikah in Hyderabad

'It was exciting, adventurous and special'

virtual wedding, virtual nikah, Hyderabad couple, Skype wedding, online wedding, online nikah, indian express, indian express news Najaf Naqvi and Fariya Sultana on their wedding day. (Photo by Syed Ghazi, the father of the bride)

Twenty-eight-year-old Najaf Naqvi and 25-year-old Fariya Sultana had a little over 24 hours to prepare for their wedding. Naqvi and Sultana were slated to get married with all the pomp and family presence in Hyderabad on April 5, 2020, before the lockdown was announced. Then, they had two options — wait indefinitely while the world gets back to normal, or get married immediately, without any further delay. The couple chose to do the latter.

On April 6, their nikah happened with some 16 people in attendance (excluding the bride and the groom). The twist being — they were all in their respective houses, in different cities even, watching the wedding unfold on Skype, WhatsApp and other digital platforms. While the groom’s family witnessed the wedding from Kanpur, other relatives joined in from Bengaluru. In Hyderabad, only the groom, the bride and her immediate family were present in the apartment when the nikah was being officiated. 

The interesting thing is, it was all being done by two Kanpur-based maulanas, who were called in last-minute when the couple could not arrange for a qazi in Hyderabad. Both the families had permissions in place, and they took all necessary health precautions, including wearing of masks. 

Indianexpress.com reached out to the newly married couple to find out exactly how they pulled off this last-minute wedding. What followed was a conversation peppered with laughter and a lot of hope and excitement for the future.

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“We had a lot of time to plan the wedding, so naturally we had many expectations,” said Sultana. “We were disappointed because things didn’t happen as per plan. But, as things unfurled, it became more special because we realised we made it despite so many difficulties and roadblocks. We did initially think that we would have to postpone it and do it in June, given the situation, but then since nothing was pre-determined, we thought it better to go ahead and do it before things get worse,” she said, adding that ‘nikah‘ — or the actual wedding — is most sacred in Islam, and everything else, the celebrations and family gatherings, et al, is secondary.   

Two maulanas joined in virtually from Kanpur, where the groom’s family lives, to officiate the wedding. (Photo by Raza Naqvi, the groom’s brother)

“When we were getting married, it was not sinking in. We were facing some technical issues also. In the evening, when we all sat down for dinner, that is when it dawned on me that this nikah has finally happened!” said Naqvi, who works for a multinational company in the Telangana capital.

Naqvi is the older of two brothers, and it was obviously difficult for him and his family to be apart on such a momentous day. “My father was the one who first asked me if I am ready to do a nikah like this. He asked me to find out if my in-laws are game. They were pretty receptive to the idea. My parents gave me their blessings. After my uncle who got married 25 years ago, this was the first wedding in the family, but it had to happen like this. My in-laws stepped up and assumed the role of my parents,” he said.

The wedding trousseau


Sultana wasn’t sure till the last minute what she was going to wear; her nikah outfit was quickly patched together. “We usually wear red for the ceremony. I had this new dress, which had a ready-made palazzo and a dupatta, a bit heavy. And then I had a kurta which did not match at all, but it had to be done. Eventually, it looked really put-together, and as a bride I was more than satisfied with how I looked on the day,” she laughed.

She even did her hair and makeup on her own, too. “Before the wedding, the bride and the groom are not supposed to see each other. But in our case, we were getting ready simultaneously,” she said.

Relatives witnessed the wedding via Skype and WhatsApp. (Photo by Raza Naqvi, the groom’s brother)

Her husband, meanwhile, had a slightly different experience. “In our culture, the groom’s wedding attire is put together by the bride’s family and vice versa. So, my mother-in-law and I had already shopped for a sherwani last month. That was there with them, and I was lucky that way. But, there was an ‘auspicious hour’, and the nikah had to happen by 12.30 pm. But, we had to go out to run a few errands in the morning and by the time we rushed back, it was already 12.15 pm. I had 15 minutes to get ready. So, when I sat down, I had worn a pair of jeans underneath the sherwani — and they could only see my face. When the camera panned towards Fariya, I quickly wore my pajama,” he laughed.

What next?


The couple understands that even though the wedding has been solemnized, the vidaai (bride leaving her maternal house to start a new life with her husband and his family — in this case, a journey to Kanpur) and the walima (wedding reception) still remain. And amid the lockdown, things will have to wait. Naqvi said he will continue to work from home and plan something as soon as the travel restrictions would be lifted.

First published on: 09-04-2020 at 10:50 IST
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