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Infant wedding: 3-month-old girl refuses to say qabool, nikaah off

Infant wedding: 3-month-old girl refuses to say qabool, nikaah off

Author: Amita Verma
Publication: The Asian Age
Date: December 3, 2003

It was supposed to be a proper nikaah ceremony but the bride refused to say "qabool" and the parents hurriedly turned it into an engagement ceremony instead.

The bride, Qaiser Jahan, refused to say qabool because she fell asleep during the ceremony, and that was quite natural as she is just three months old. Her groom, Altaf, is barely four years old.

This unique "wedding," according to a report published in a local daily, was scheduled for Monday in Bijnor district, but the stubborn bride forced a change of schedule and the parents of the bridal couple had to remain content with an engagement ceremony instead.

Qaiser Jahan, the bride, is the daughter of Nisar Ahmad of Jandarpur village, and the father, it seems, had promised his cousin sister, Taslima, that he would marry his first daughter to her son. Taslima had a son, Altaf, four years ago and when Nisar Ahmad's second wife Gulshan delivered a baby girl three months ago, the parents instantly began preparing for the wedding without even waiting for the kids to grow up. The baraat arrived in style at the village on Sunday night with the groom Altaf happily sitting on his father's lap and enjoying the attention. On Monday morning, Altaf was dressed up as a groom and taken in a Tata Sumo to the gaily-decorated residence of his bride.

A meal comprising sheermal, steaming hot kebabs, biryani and topped with sewain was laid out for the baraatis and the guests who came in hundreds to witness this unique wedding.

As the baraatis savoured the food, the maulvi began the nikaah ceremony. Altaf, who had apparently been tutored for the event, accepted the nikaah but when the maulvi went to seek Qaiser Jahan's assent for the wedding and asked her to say qabool, there was no response. The maulvi repeated his question but again he was greeted with silence. Qaiser Jahan had fallen asleep by then.

The maulvi then advised the parents of the bridal couple to convert the event into an engagement ceremony and wait for the bride to grow up enough to be able to utter the word "qabool."

Though the baraat returned after the engagement, the bride continued to sleep through the day. Festivities in both households, however, continued and the "wedding" is now expected to take place sometime in summer when Qaiser will be older by a few more months.

While the whole of Jandarpur village participated in the event, the local administration feigns complete ignorance about this infant wedding. "We have no such information, so there is no question of our taking any action," said a police official and banged down the telephone on Tuesday.

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