A WHILE BACK JAHANGIR had called a surprise evening party to celebrate the full moon. There was music, poetry and surprising hors d’œuvres and the novelty of the occasion made it memorable for many. Today however is a celebration that both he and Nur Jahan have been awaiting for close to five years. This is how long ago Jahangir’s son, Shah Jahan had been betrothed to Arjumand Banu but the stars willed their marriage would only happen this year.
Arjumand Banu is Nur Jahan’s niece and the aunt has been personally involved in details of the bride’s wardrobe for several months. Today she will be wearing a gilt-edged red sari encrusted with semi-precious stones and pearls. Shah Jahan will be wearing an embroidered cream jama (overcoat) fastened diagonally at his right shoulder, over trousers with a mango print and silk mojari.
Yesterday was Shah Jahan’s hennabandi ceremony. For this, henna was sent in a procession from the bride’s home, along with other gifts including perfume, incense, betel leaves and the ever-auspicious sugar candy. In keeping with tradition, he was dressed in apparel specially picked for him by the bride’s father.
Soon after Jahangir ties the sehra (veil of pearls) to the forehead of his son, drums and trumpets announce the start of the wedding procession to the home of Nur Jahan’s father (Arjumand’s grandfather), the Itimad-ud-daulah. A cavalcade of princes and elites atop caparisoned horses and princesses in palanquins, wind their way down teeming thouroughfares and streets, preceded by musicians and kenchens (dancers). On arriving, the revelries continue unabated and only pause briefly when the Kazi performs his blessings. The party lasts till the next morning when the couple return to the house of the groom.
Arjumand Banu enters the royal palace as Mumtaz.