An Ismaili Wedding in the Pamirs Through My Lens by Muslim Harji

MH27PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2fb7Editor’s note: Our remarkable series of portraits from Badakhshan through the lens of (Montreal’s) Muslim Harji continues with this Part II exclusively dedicated to an Ismaili wedding in a small village in the Pamirs that Muslim and his wife Nevin attended during their recent memorable visit to Badakhshan.

Harji’s photos are stunning and enchantingly beautiful, and if you missed Part I of the series, we invite you to click on The Ismailis of Badakhshan Through My Lens by Muslim Harji. Please share the link to this page with your friends, family members and contacts around the world using the share feature provided below, and via your social media pages. Simergphotos is always pleased to hear from you and welcomes your feedback on this piece (and others) in the comments box at the foot of this page (note that you may choose to remain anonymous, and we never publish your email address).

Once again we are indebted to Harji for his highly acclaimed pieces, which have become standard regular features on this blog,, as well as its sister literary website,



(Special to Simerg/Simergphotos)

Nevin and I were fortunate to be invited to the wedding of Nanish and Sorborn during our recent visit to   Badakashan. The wedding was a seven day fair, which took place in a small village of Namadgut (Near Ishkashim). The whole village of forty Ismaili families was involved in the preparation and celebration of the wedding, as Nanish belonged to the whole village.





“Pamirs  have very unique wedding ceremonies. It lasts seven days! On the first day of the ceremony, the bride and the bridegroom proclaim their marriage and hold separate banquets with their own families, which continue for three days. On the fifth day, the bridegroom, accompanied by friends and relatives, goes to his bride’s home. There, the newlyweds make their commitment before a Khalifa, after which they must drink a cup of water and eat a bit of meat, cake and salt. This seals the marriage, and only then are they allowed to be together.”

MH06PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2e21The family discussing the details over cups of Choi, fresh Naans & lamb shorba. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH07PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2e31Preparation of a Pamiri delicacy, which is similar to the East African “koko thende”. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH08PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2e41Making preparations to fry the delicacy in a traditional kitchen fire. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH09PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2e50Frying the delicacy. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH10PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2e60Preparations for Plov (pilaf)…cleaning and cutting carrots.  Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH01PamiriIsmailiwedding.1b2e6fNevin Harji, left, joins Pamiri Ismaili women in the preparation of sweets made with butter, milk and sugar, which is similar to barfi. Women sing happy and joyful marriage songs while making the sweets. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH03PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2e7fVillager helping in the preparation of  the wedding feast. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH04PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2e8fGetting the bride ready for the  occasion. The grandmother is in charge of  dressing the bride, with friends and village folks helping with manicure, pedicure and makeup.  Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


Bride in the making…with a little personal touch? Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright

MH11PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2eaeThe bride with women and children of the village. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


A blessing for the bride from her beloved grandfather. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


The grandmother witnessing the Pamiri socks ceremony. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


The groom’s family and other guests  are received with sweets as they arrive at the bride’s home. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


The celebration…Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


Osh, generically known as plov (pilaf), is usually prepared by the family and village elders. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


The plov is a rice dish made with shredded yellow turnip or carrot, and pieces of meat, all fried together in vegetable oil or mutton fat in a special qazan (a wok-shaped cauldron) over an open flame. The meat is cubed, the carrots are chopped finely into long strips, and the rice is colored yellow or orange by the frying carrots and the oil. The dish is eaten communally, often with one’s hands in the traditional way from a single large plate placed at the center of the table.  Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


It is usually served by the friends and the family of the bride. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH19PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2f3aThe celebrations continue…Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH20PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2f4aAnd even the Khalifa joins in the celebrations and dances. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright..


…and the feasting too continues. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.




The main wedding ceremony is the “nikoh” (nikkah), during which the Khalifa reads verses from the Holy Qur’an, and blesses the couple. This ritual is held in order to confirm the husband’s agreement to protect his wife, and she in her turn must honor and respect her husband. After finishing the nikoh, the newlyweds proceed to the registry office, and then there is a reception with  merry programs, dances and delicious treats.  Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.

MH22PamiriIsmailiwedding1b2f69Reception following the nikoh…the playing of “daf” welcomes the bride and the groom to the reception. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


The arrival of the bride and groom to the reception hall. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


There is feasting at the reception. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


 … well as dancing. Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.




Nanish, right, and Sorborn exchange rings.Photo: Muslim Harji. Copyright.


A beautiful portrait of the couple, where the bride has finally removed the “Ghunghat” veil.

Date posted: Sunday, June 21, 2015.

Copyright: Muslim Harji. 2015.


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