In Pakistan, where Zohra was born and raised, marriages are mostly arranged by parents or immediate family members, and although people outside of the family and distant cousins are as eligible, first cousins are preferred for marriage partners. Usually the parents of the groom select a bride to be. An important factor in determining a bride is the status of the family of the bride-to-be. Those with higher status tend to be more eligible than a family with lower status or bad reputation.
Once the family has selected a potential bride-to-be, a picture of the woman is taken to the groom. If the groom approves, the parents of the groom meet with the parents of the bride and propose their sons hand in marriage. Then it's the brides turn to view a picture of the groom. If, and only if, the bride approves, the parents accept the proposal. After the proposal has been accepted, the groom's family goes to the bride's home and has a small ceremony of acceptance.
This is the first meeting in which the bride and groom meet. In more conservative families the bride views the groom, no words are exchanged. In more westernized families the bride and groom can talk, or the families have dinner together. The parents then meet again and arrangements are made for the actual wedding ceremonies and to agree upon how much money will be given should the marriage fail.
One week before the start of the ceremonies, a separate ceremony is held at the bride's house called the Ubton. This is where all the girls from the bride's family get together and performs a ritual event in which creme or paste type substance is applied to the bride's arms and legs. This substance is a type of skin treatment which also leaves a very pleasant smell. During this week the bride is to have no contact with any male so she has more beauty and charm on the day of the wedding.
The actual wedding consists of four days in which different events take place. The first day is the Hena ceremony or Mehndhi which consists of mainly females. On this day, ladies from the groom's family go to the brides home and brings with them clothes, jewelry, shoes, a purse, and any other accessories for the bride on her wedding day along with 7 sets of clothes and accessories as a gift from the grooms family to the bride. Hena is applied to the hands and feet of the bride to bring beauty. Hena was used in the times of the prophet Muhammad when nail polish and other items of such were non-existent. Sweets are fed to the bride by 7 women from the groom's family who are non-widows. For the remainder of the ceremony, women sing songs and party.
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