Indian wedding: Blessedly blissful

Indian wedding: Blessedly blissful
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Updated 24 April 2013

Indian wedding: Blessedly blissful

Indian wedding: Blessedly blissful

Colorful costumes, vibrant settings, happy faces, lip-smacking traditional food-fare and a lot more comprise the extravaganza of an Indian wedding. Gone are the days when one “had” to be in India to have or attend an Indian style wedding. Now more and more Indians expats are choosing their second home, Saudi Arabia, to get married. The process has been facilitated by the increasing availability locally of all that goes into an Indian wedding, be it the authentic Indian food, traditional flowers, bridal dresses and jewelry, and more importantly, a whole community of friends and family.

Indian Muslim weddings are elaborate and typically consist of many functions. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) considered simple weddings to be the best weddings. Although traditions and rituals vary with different states in India, most are generic to all Muslim nuptials in the country. Here’s a rundown through a typical Indian wedding taking place in Jeddah — simple, minus all the opulence, yet rooted in tradition.

Nikah — The marriage contract
This is perhaps the most important part of a Muslim wedding anywhere. What accompanies it apart from the Valima are just customary rituals. The date of the Nikah, which will take place in a mahkamah (court), is set well in advance. Generally, the male family members of the bride and groom take care of this. Jeddah residents can register in their city’s court while some chose to marry in the mahkamah in Makkah. In case of the latter, on the day of the Nikah, both families and relatives start early in the day for the holy city, complete the procedures at the office of the judge, who officially declares the couple husband and wife. The “Wali” (the father of the bride) plays an important role in the ceremony. The boy’s side proposes and the girl’s side conveys her assent, after which the Nikah is complete. This is followed by a “Khutba” by the judge, where he reads out certain verses from the holy Qur’an. The families then usually go to the Holy Mosque, where the bride and the groom perform Tawaf, together for the first time — symbolic of an auspicious start to the married life. In the evening, friends and family come together for a small gathering at the bride’s place to bless the new couple.

Manje — The turmeric ceremony
No word better describes Manje than yellow! From the décor to the bride’s and her friends’ dresses, or to the copious amounts of turmeric and ubtan (sandalwood) that are applied to the bride, it’s shades of yellow or orange, and green in some cases, that dominate this day. The ceremony is much looked forward to and enjoyed as it is usually a women- and children-only event. The female relatives of the bride anoint her with turmeric paste and other herbal mixtures to bring out the glow in her complexion. The event has a festive feel to it with the women singing traditional songs. A series of Manje — two, three or more — take place before the big day.

Sanchak-Mehendi — henna ceremony
A common pre-wedding function, in which mehendi or henna is applied to the hands and feet of the bride, her friends and relatives. Mehendi is a very old custom and an ancient art form in the Asian subcontinent. Professional mehendi designers are brought in, who personalize the designs to the wedding theme or the bride’s liking. The theme of the ceremony is green, the color of the henna, as well as orange and yellow. It can be a small family gathering at the bride’s home or a big event at a restaurant/ hotel, where families and extended families of both the groom and the bride greet and meet each other and exchange gifts. Little goody bags filled with chocolates, nuts and other gifts are given out by the bride’s family to the guests. Traditionally, the families, sans the bride, then proceed to the groom’s place, where the bride’s sisters and cousins apply a dot of mehendi on the finger of the groom and demand money in a playful gesture. This part of the ceremony is called Sanchak, but most families prefer conducting this along with the Mehendi ceremony in a common venue. In traditional families, the bride and the groom are not allowed to see each other during all their pre-wedding functions until the wedding day.

Wedding card
A wedding invitation card is the first interaction between the hosts and the guests. It speaks volumes about the style and taste of the wedding and those hosting it, and hence should not be treated as just another ‘formality.’ Those printed back home are embellished with typical Indian motifs in gold, silver and stonework. Wedding cards can be printed here too.
Wedding venue
Factors like price, seating capacities and available services affect the choice of a venue. A cosmopolitan city like Jeddah has many beautiful wedding halls and hotels fit for every size, style and taste. In all honesty, the most humble of these venues look better than many top class wedding halls in India. Some halls here also offer catering, décor, photography and videography services. Most Indian families opt for desi cuisines, which they order separately and hence don’t choose the Arabic and continental food that the venue offers.

Wedding outfits and jewelry
What the bride and the groom wear on the big day and on other festivities of the wedding is decided with utmost precision. While traditional silks and brocades are ideally best bought in India, many stores in Jeddah are stocking up on the latest in bridal wear, be it an Indian embroidered lehenga or a Pakistani gharara, which have become a trend among Indian brides. In Jeddah, specific shops in Kababish and Kandra usually come to the rescue of those unable to bring their wedding outfits from India. Prices may be a notch higher than those back home. Muslims brides traditionally wear shades of red and pink on the wedding day, while green and turquoise are worn for the reception (Valima). The perfect jewelry makes every bride look extraordinary on her wedding day. Gold is predominantly used throughout all the ceremonies, which is sometimes encrusted with pearls, diamonds, emeralds, rubies and other precious stones. The latter is chosen with utmost care so as to coordinate their colors with the outfit. While Saudi gold is best known for its purity, those looking for antique Indian style wedding pieces, such as, jadawi laccha, rani haar, and other traditional jewelry must do that bit of shopping back home.

Flower shower
Apart from ravishing outfits, exquisite wedding jewelry, it is the backdrop of the wedding venue that is essential to enhance the bride’s beauty and enliven her spirit. The wedding flowers are one of the most photographed details. Therefore, choosing them carefully becomes imperative to make the backdrop modern and stunning. Flowers are an integral part of an Indian wedding, from the entrance gate to the stage, dinning tables and chandelier, and as garlands. What needs to be taken into consideration is the theme and décor of the wedding. Floral theme has become a rage. The theme of love involving red roses will always remain evergreen. Although nothing can match the beauty of fresh flowers at a wedding, many are coming up with other elements to substitute the use of flowers. Readymade strands of artificial flowers that bear resemblance to the real thing can also be bought from India.

Photography
No one can ever get bored of a wedding album. Filled with candid moments, unusual angles and spontaneous expressions, in the end it all comes down to capturing those special moments. And the only witnesses you will ever have to your wedding are your photographs and videos. So, choosing the right photographer becomes imperative. The bride especially seeks after the services of a female photographer/ videographer. Be it a friend with a passion for photography or a professional, Jeddah has no dearth of female shutterbugs.

Wedding day
It is an important part of the festivities, mainly because in India, the Nikah takes place on this day and the bride is bid farewell on the same day. However, here, the Nikah can take place a few days or even months before the actual Rukhsati (sending off of the bride) takes place on the “wedding day”. The ceremony, hosted by the bride’s side, is generally a well-attended affair. The bride and the groom are initially seated separately but come together once only the close relatives and friends remain while others leave. In the end of the function, the bride is bid farewell by her tearful parents and relatives. In a touching gesture, a sober bride’s father gives his daughter’s hand in the groom’s hand, who then ushers her into the car, which is driven away. A solemn end to all the week-long festivities. Or wait. The end is yet to come.

Valima
The Valima reception is the lavish reception that the groom’s family hosts after the Nikah. It is a more relaxed, fun and joyous occasion that brings the two families together. This function marks the end to a big, fat Indian wedding, and is essentially a celebratory start to the couple’s new life.

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Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes
Updated 28 February 2021

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes

Dubai cat cafe hopes rescues will find purr-fect new homes
  • The cafe’s original residents were strays taken in by the family over the years
  • Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions

DUBAI: A haven for humans craving furry feline company, a cat cafe in Dubai also doubles as an adoption center for some of the United Arab Emirates’ many strays.
The Ailuromania Cat Cafe, which was the Middle East’s first cat cafe when it opened in 2015, hopes the relaxing properties of its 25 rescue and shelter cats will help find them their forever homes.
“Anyone who is stressed just has to find a cat. All your stress will go away,” said Omnia Fareed, whose two cat-loving sisters Allaa and Iman started the cafe after university, taking inspiration from similar establishments in Korea and London.
The cafe’s original residents were strays taken in by the family over the years. Now Ailuromania hosts cats from a government-run animal shelter in the neighboring emirate of Ras al Khaimah, hoping to increase adoptions.
The cafe’s name Ailuromania is a play on the Greek-derived English word for a lover of cats: ailurophile.
The cafe has regular customers who come seeking relaxation from the stresses of life, or because they cannot keep a cat at home.
“They are so cute, they love playing,” said visitor Shaasthra. She said she appreciates how the cafe looks after the cats’ welfare by advising people not to hold them or wake them up.
Another regular visitor, a street cat who would stare in through the window, was also invited and eventually adopted.
Since Dubai began lifting coronavirus lockdown measures last summer, the cafe re-opened with capacity and sanitization restrictions.
Dubai has a large number of stray cats, with many abandoned on the streets by their owners. In 2018 UAE authorities made it illegal to abandon animals, but animal welfare activists in Dubai have for years called for a large-scale trap-neuter-release scheme and feeding programs to bring numbers down humanely.
In August, Dubai municipality issued a circular restating a policy of fining anyone caught feeding strays, saying it increases the spread of diseases.


Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework
Updated 24 February 2021

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework

Chinese court orders man to pay former wife $7,700 for five years of housework
  • The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media

BEIJING: A Chinese court has ordered a man to pay his former wife 50,000 yuan ($7,700) as compensation for housework she did during their five-year marriage, state media reported on Wednesday.
Under a landmark civil code that seeks to better protect the rights of individuals, spouses can seek compensation from their partners in a divorce if they have shouldered more responsibilities — including housework.
The woman, who did not work outside the home during the marriage, sought compensation for housework she had done after her husband filed for divorce at a district court in Beijing last year.
The judge ruled in her favor, telling the man to pay 50,000 yuan for her labor, according to state television.
He must also pay 2,000 yuan a month to support their child, with other assets such as property to be divided equally.
The award of compensation for housework sparked debate on Chinese social media, with many netizens saying the amount was too little.
“A nanny’s annual income is already in the tens of thousands of yuan,” said a social media user. “This is too little.”


Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2021

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects

Experts warn of ‘dangerous’ keto diet side effects
  • “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before”

JEDDAH: The ketogenic diet has become one of the fastest-growing dietary trends, but experts have warned that many of its advocates are unaware of the dangerous side effects the diet can cause.

According to Healthline.com, the ketogenic diet, commonly known as keto, is a low-carb, high-fat diet that shares similarities with low carb and Atkins diets. A reduction of carbohydrate intake and increase in fats place the body in a metabolic state called ketosis.
However, the diet has led to severe side effects for some people.
“The keto diet should only be done under clinical supervision, and only for brief periods of time,” Dr. Ruwaida Idrees, a nutritionist, CEO and owner of Hayati Ghethaei, a catering company, told Arab News.
She added that the keto diet should only be considered in “extreme cases,” because it can do “more harm than good.”
Idrees said: “It can cause damage to the heart, since the heart is also a muscle.”
Consulting a doctor, completing necessary tests and discussing goals with a clinical dietitian should all be considered before starting a keto diet, she added.
Idrees said there are many misconceptions surrounding the keto diet and exercise, adding that exercise can still reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity and other health conditions.
People need to be careful about the types of exercises they practice, she said. “The keto diet can also affect your performance during certain exercises, and you won’t be able to work out as intensely or as often as before.”
Fouz Ghannamil, a fitness trainer, told Arab News that the diet appeared to work for many people. “It is good, but my own opinion is that the human body needs more nutrition than just fat and a really small dose of carbohydrates.”
She added: “It has a high portion of proteins which is good, but the fat sources, no matter how good they are, are a bit too much. It is better in my opinion that the portion of fat and carbs is balanced.”
Ghannamil suggested a better alternative for people looking to shed pounds this year — sticking to a diet of “80 percent healthy food and 20 percent junk food.
“Because naturally, your mind will desire junk food that is not natural, however, it has loads of fat in and your body can use it as an energy source.”
She warned people considering a new diet to stick to a balanced nutrition pyramid that contains everything they need: Protein, carbohydrates and fat.
She added that people should avoid diets based solely on numbers rather than personal experience.
Idrees, on the other hand, proposed the Mediterranean diet as a simpler alternative to the keto diet, saying that it has a good balance of seafood and other sources of proteins, moderate portions of dairy and a limited intake of red meat.


TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list
Updated 15 February 2021

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

TWITTER POLL: Huge majority disagree with US decision to remove Houthis from terror list

DUBAI: A large majority of respondents to an Arab News Twitter poll said they disagreed with the US decision to remove Houthi militia from a terrorism list — reversing one of Donald Trump’s final decisions before leaving office.
A staggering 74 percent of 1,113 voters said they opposed the decision, while just over 17 percent agreed. And only 8.9 percent said they were undecided.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Houthis will be removed from the US list of foreign terrorist organizations on Feb. 16.


Blinken said the decision to remove the group’s FTO designation as well as its Specially Designated Global Terrorist Designation was driven by concerns, calling it “a recognition of the dire humanitarian situation in Yemen.”
The announcement came after the Houthis mounted a number of attacks on civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, which were condemned by the State Department earlier this week.
The top US diplomat noted in his statement that Houthi leaders Abdul Malik Al-Houthi, Abd Al-Khaliq Badr Al-Din Al-Houthi, and Abdullah Yahya Al-Hakim remain under sanction.


“The United States remains clear-eyed about Ansarallah’s malign actions, and aggression, including taking control of large areas of Yemen by force, attacking US partners in the Gulf, kidnapping and torturing citizens of the United States and many of our allies, diverting humanitarian aid, brutally repressing Yemenis in areas they control, and the deadly attack on Dec. 30, 2020 in Aden against the cabinet of the legitimate government of Yemen,” he said, using another name for the Houthis.
The Biden administration's special envoy for Yemen, Timothy Lenderking, was in Riyadh this week for meetings with Saudi and Yemeni officials as well as UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.
“The United States will redouble its efforts, alongside the United Nations and others, to end the war itself. We reaffirm our strong belief that there is no military solution to this conflict,” Blinken said Friday.


French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19
Updated 11 February 2021

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19

French nun, Europe’s oldest person, turns 117 after surviving COVID-19
  • Sister Andre is not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday
  • She converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 26

TOULON, France: Europe’s oldest person, French nun Sister Andre, turns 117 on Thursday after surviving COVID-19 last month and living through two world wars, with a special birthday feast including her favorite dessert — Baked Alaska.
Born Lucile Randon on February 11, 1904, Sister Andre said she didn’t realize she had caught the coronavirus, which infected 81 residents of her retirement home in the southeast city of Toulon, killing 10 of them.
“I’m told that I got it,” the nun said ahead of her birthday. “I was very tired, it’s true, but I didn’t realize it.”
But David Tavella, spokesman for the Sainte-Catherine-Laboure nursing home, said she had “experienced a triple confinement: in her wheelchair, in her room and without a visit.”
“So, her birthday, it reinvigorates us,” he added, following the deadly outbreak.
Sister Andre said she was not going to do anything special for her 117th birthday but the home is planning a celebration for her.
There will be a special mass at the home, which has a dozen nuns, and the chef is preparing a birthday feast of foie gras, capon fillet with porcini mushrooms and Sister Andre’s favorite dessert: baked Alaska, washed down with a glass of port.
She says her favorite food is lobster and she enjoys a glass of wine.
“I drink a small glass of wine every day,” she said.
Born in Ales in a Protestant family, she grew up as the only girl among three brothers.
One of her fondest memories was the return of two of her brothers at the end of World War I.
“It was rare, in families, there were usually two dead rather than two alive. They both came back,” she said last year, on her 116th birthday.
She converted to Catholicism and was baptized at the age of 26. She joined the Daughters of Charity order of nuns at the relatively late age of 41.
Sister Andre was then assigned to a hospital in Vichy, where she worked for 31 years and then spent 30 years in a retirement home in the French Alps before moving to Toulon.
She is the second-oldest living person in the world, according to the Gerontology Research Group, after Japanese woman Kane Tanaka, who is 118.
Asked what she would say to young people, Sister Andre said: “Be brave and show compassion.”