Afghan Wedding Traditions

Afghan weddings mix a little of the modern with a great deal of the traditional. Customs centuries old are still in use today. See our guide for more facts and information…

The wedding will last from about 6 P.M. to about 11:00 P.M.  In a traditional wedding, the female guests will sit on the right hand of the room while the male guests will sit on the left side of the room. When the room is about half filled, a band will start playing music, sometimes traditional and sometimes contemporary. The guests are seated at tables and they all join in talking about their loved ones that are about to be married.

There are decorated chairs up front for the couple to be married. These chairs represent thrones as the betrothed couple is to be the king and queen for the evening. Around 8:30 P.M., the band will play “Ahesta Boro” which means to walk slowly in Pashtu. The couple will then have a shawl placed over their heads, and holding a mirror the couple will look at each other while a mullah (holy man) leads them in prayer. This would have been the first time the couple had seen each other under the old tradition. After this, the mullah pronounces them married.

The Nikah

This takes place prior to the wedding ceremony. The groom and the father of the bride to be are led in marriage negotiations by the mullah. After the bride’s father makes an offer acceptable to the groom, the mullah goes to the separate room that the bride is in and asks her three times if she accepts the groom in marriage. If she says yes, the bride and groom are led to the celebration room for the marriage.

After the marriage there will be dancing. This may go on to all hours of the night and continue until dawn. The meal will follow the dancing.

The Meal

The meal after the marriage will consist of three kinds of rice and various shish kabobs. It will be served in a buffet manner. There is usually a traditional dessert made of bread crumbs.

The Henna

This is done before the couple cuts the three story wedding cake. In old tradition, cuts were made on the palms of the couple so that their blood could run together. Now henna, a type of dye that is red is used on the couple’s palms rather than blood. Some sacred words are said after which the couple cuts the cake.


This is the national dance of the Afghans and the Pashtus. It is performed in a circle at the end of the ceremony. In tradition, it was performed both at the first of the marriage ceremony and at the last. It signifies the end of the ceremony.

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