There is a social media challenge going around to share the first picture with your partner. As I looked for a picture of Jaffar and I back from June 2008 on Facebook, I came across our engagement and imam zamin ceremony pictures.
They brought back many emotions: nostalgia for people and days gone, regret for only saving grainy Facebook pictures (and losing actual high resolution images in changing laptops and phones) and deep interest in little details in all the pictures.
I honestly didn’t care how my dress looked or what my lipstick colour was, it was all that was happening in the background and with everyone around us that interested me and brought back many memories: the gate of my parent’s house that we lived in for fifteen years, that bougainvillea bush that grew abundantly on both sides of the boundary wall, the mix of anxiety and happiness on my mother’s face, our drawing room that was full of our immediate families (imagining all the fun conversations that must have been happening) and how Jaffar’s mamoo (uncle, who sadly passed away) was looking on lovingly as Jaffar put a ring on my finger.
I realized that as the years go by it’s not the perfect poses, blurred backgrounds and absolute focus that brings us joy. What sparks memories and emotions are the natural expressions, the chipped paint on the wall, the expressions of everyone in the background (who are not posing), and the imperfect details.
I hope I remember this as I capture family memories going forward. Also need to make a more organized effort of saving and printing digital pictures.
[Read more: OUR BIG FAT PAKISTANI WEDDING]
Our Engagement and imam Zamin Ceremony Pictures
So let me share here our engagement and imam zamin ceremony pictures which was a really small intimate family function and the one I enjoyed the most amongst all the rest.
Jaffar was visiting Pakistan from Canada and since there was a Nikkah ceremony later in the week, my parents had arranged a dinner for both sides of the family to meet. This being Islamabad, everyone pretty much knew everyone from before. This was to be a chance for my family to meet Jaffar and his family to meet all of us. My parents arranged a dinner for around 50-60 people at our place, which in Pakistan is easily immediate family: his dadi, mamoo, mami, phupos, phupas, chacha, chachi, cousins, my nani, dadi, khalas, khaloo, phupos, phupas and cousins.
I was at work when my mother called to inform me that the family dinner was now an imam zamin ceremony and I should try and come back home early.
In Muslim Shia families, an imam zamin is a band with a token cash amount stitched inside, that is tied to the arm for safe keeping at special occasions, such as before travel, an exam or an engagement/wedding.
I had enough time to come home, shower, change into a khaadi dress I had worn a few times before and put on my basic makeup (lipstick and eyeliner) before I was called downstairs by my cousin since the guests had started arriving.
It was June 2008 and quite hot in Islamabad. This is Jaffar’s younger brother coming inside with big boxes of mithai (traditional sweets).
I wish I had higher resolution pictures since these Facebook grainy ones are the only ones I have. I loved looking at our entrance gate again, that bougainvillea bush and how all the house help (who were always like members of family) were greeting the guests with just as much excitement.
My eldest phupo had taken charge of all ceremonies as she always lovingly does and here she was introducing Jaffar to our side of the family. It wasn’t till many years of marriage and trips back home that Jaffar started putting names to faces.
The men were seated in the drawing room and the ladies in our living room. Jaffar looks totally overwhelmed five minutes into the night!
Gas heaters were a must in every room in Islamabad due to the cold winters and you can see a peak of it in the picture. I even like the dangling AC wires that used to drive us nuts in those days!
Here are the two mothers. The women had spilled into my dadi’s room also which was next to the living room. Love those bamboo drapes and that landline trolley in the background.
I was taken into the drawing/dining room to start the ceremonies and the women all squeezed in the dining room section.
We started off with the recitation of Hadees-e-Kisa. My heart warms at this picture of Jaffar’s dadi, my dadi and my dada’s sister. Knowing my nani, she must have been in the background. It’s extremely sad that none of our grandmothers are in this world now.
Jaffar’s chachi (who is also my mother’s friend) quickly prompted me to cover my head with a dupatta.
I don’t know whose idea it was to seat me here with my back to the male section. They look engrossed in their own gupshup though.
After Hadees-e-Kisa all of Jaffar’s cousins put on various ornaments such as flower garlands, earrings and pazaib on me as is a tradition in their family.
All dolled up now and wondering “kya ab sharmana hai?”
Then Jaffar’s dadi amma put an imam zamin on my arm with lots of duas.
While Jaffar looked on. Yes, he had been summoned from the mardana.
After looking at this picture, I am glad we weren’t sitting infront of the dining room mirrors and avoided that dreaded flash.
My phupa put on the imam zamin on Jaffar who had now been asked to sit next to me.
And then Jaffar’s mother brought out a lovely ring in a teddy bear ring holder!
This was a total surprise since there was no talk of exchanging engagement rings. This was supposed to be a simple imam zamin ceremony and we didn’t have a ring for Jaffar!
While my mother scrambled on what to do about a ring, I had other matters to take care of. Can you see the heat rising in my cheeks with all of Jaffar’s cheekiness.
Jaffar got on his knees in the room brimming with family to put the ring on my finger after muttering: “Have to do it the right way!”. The women squealed with laughter and delight and even the men in the background seems to be taking notice of the proceedings now.
And now was the issue of Jaffar’s ring…we didn’t have any for him because this wasn’t in the plan! Jaffar’s father sweetly gave his aqeeq ring which I put on Jaffar’s finger. In this picture, I love the expression of my father and Jaffar’s mamoon (uncle) the most, who are looking on so lovingly from the back.
There were a few more duas, but I think both of us are thinking of dinner now!
Talking of dinner, my father had arranged for the famous Mohammadi nihari to be flown in especially from Karachi for the day. That ofcourse became the highlight of the night and to this day everyone remembers the night of our engagement/imam zamin as the night they had the epic nihari at Ammar Bhai’s house! I can’t be upset at him for stealing the thunder, because food is one of the ways he expresses his love and care!
Hope you enjoyed our engagement and imam zamin ceremony pictures along with the various memories and emotions they brought along.
Would love to hear from you!