Laura Madden

Just another weblog

Photos from My Wedding

with 21 comments

The night of my mehendi, there were so many girls and women in the room that it was too hot. The lens on the camera fogged up, but Ashraf took a few shots anyway. The woman sitting to my right is Dilshada, my brother-in-law’s wife. The woman sitting to my left is my cousin, Kehrunissa. In a final touch, she’s dabbing henna on my fingertips.

On the morning of our Nikkah, the women and I relaxed in the room adjacent to the kitchen. My father-in-law passed away shortly after I met him in 2008 – the woman on the left is his sister. On the right is Dilshada’s mother, and they are sharing a smoke. Underneath each pheran (the baggy muu-muu both women are wearing) is an earthenware firepot with live coals. The pheran and firepot are essential for survival in the Kashmiri winter.

More of us relaxing in the morning. In the foreground is a second-cousin who lives in the village. Hamida, in the black headscarf, lives in a gypsy house in the forest. She gave us a dozen eggs and two kilos of kidney beans as a wedding gift.

My sister-in-law, Shabnam, worked around the clock cooking and serving the guests. Although shy, she speaks English very well.

My mother-in-law, Rahma.

After the Nikkah, my cousins all danced, sang and played drums and other percussive instruments. In the center of the photo, you can see a woman holding the equivalent of a tambourine – it’s a silver rod with tiny cymbals attached.

The singing and dancing continued as one of my uncles looked on from outside.

Admittedly not my best photo in terms of technical quality – it was tough to shoot and be a bride. However, look at the size of the samovar, which is used to serve tea to the guests. The tea is called kahwa, and is made with cinnamon, cardamom, green tea leaves and saffron for coloring. In the lower right corner, you can see the live coals in the bottom of the samovar that keep the tea hot.

My husband takes a moment to eat some lamb with the guests. Aside from the Nikkah, it was probably the only time he sat down that day.

Sitting on the right is Uncle Reyaji, a dear friend of the family. He drove two hours by car from Srinagar to represent me. The Nikkah ceremony requires an attorney, witnesses for both the bride and groom and a Muslim priest.

The henna is still strong in color after three days.


Written by Laura Madden

April 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

21 Responses

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  1. congratulations, laura! best wishes for a healthy, happy life together. xoxox

    betty ming liu

    April 5, 2011 at 11:37 am

  2. Congratulations, Laura! Much happiness to you and yours! Where are you living?


    John Anderson

    April 5, 2011 at 1:06 pm

  3. LAURA!!!!
    it looks beautiful!
    so happy for you! please send more photos when you can.


    April 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm

  4. I’m so happy for the both of you! Love each other more every day 🙂

    All the best,


    April 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm

  5. Congratulations!!!! I hope to meet your husband some day. Your pictures and descriptions are wonderful!

    Muffie Meyer

    April 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    • Thanks, Muffie! You’ll meet Ashraf for sure — it might take a little time, but NYC is on our itinerary. 😉

      Laura Madden

      April 6, 2011 at 1:22 pm

  6. As I view the rich cultural experience of “A Wedding Day in Kashmir” with all of it’s rituals and symbolic gestures, I feel as though I am reading from journals published in National Geographic. Then I realize that you Laura are living this beautiful event. That you are the main character in this story. Then I am amazed and proud.
    con mucho carino,

    Michael Barber

    April 5, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    • Tio,
      Me voy a llorar — thank you so much for your words. Sabes que estas parcialmente responsabile por eso, no? Without your guidance in my life, I never would have been open to, y’know, all this.

      Laura Madden

      April 6, 2011 at 1:20 pm

  7. laura…congrats..loved your pics..enjoy every day as a treasured blessing

    josie kirsch

    April 7, 2011 at 2:28 pm

  8. CONGRATULATION, Laura!!! The pictures are beautiful. I wish you and your husband all the best.


    April 7, 2011 at 6:07 pm

  9. My niece is attending Miri Piri Academy, which is located just outside of Amritsar, in the Punjab-anywhere near you? She is an American Sikh, grew up as such in LA.

    John Anderson

    April 8, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    • Punjab is the state adjacent to Jammu & Kashmir, but to get to it you have to drive through the mountains which is a good 10 hours by car. I think there are flights between Srinagar and Amritsar, but am not 100% sure.
      Is that niece Siri Simran?

      Laura Madden

      April 11, 2011 at 7:15 am

      • That’s her! She’s got one more year there. We are raising her 13 year old brother, Dattar, here in NJ-he’s in 7th grade and her older sister, Amrita, also went to that school and is now at UC Santa Cruz.

        John Anderson

        April 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm

  10. Beautiful pictures. Together with your comments they are an excellent snapshot of life in Kashmir; it’s almost like being there. (sadly only “almost” 😦 ) All the best to you and Ashraf.

    Gunnar Klatt

    April 8, 2011 at 4:44 pm

  11. What a wonderful, wonderful thing. Congratulations!
    Much happiness to you and Ashraf.
    Will you live in Kashmir?
    Tony Breuer

    Tony Breuer

    April 16, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    • Thanks Tony! I think we’ll be here through the summer, depending on the job market. Will keep you posted on any movements 😉

      Laura Madden

      April 20, 2011 at 7:40 am

  12. Congratulations, Signora!
    Are you still “Madden?” Also, what is your snail mail address? Dale and I are so happy for you!
    – Johanna

    Johanna Barba Jones

    April 29, 2011 at 12:49 am

    • La ringrazio! I am still Madden — not everyone here changes the name. If I ever get around to changing my name legally, it’ll be something along the lines of Laura Mehrunissa Madden Talee.

      Mehrunissa is my Muslim name which means “sun of women” or “light of women.” Talee is Ashraf’s last name.

      Snail mail? Anything you send to Srinagar, for any number of reasons, unfortunately will not likely arrive at its intended destination. 😦

      Laura Madden

      April 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm

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