Kazakh wedding ceremony
The religious part of the Kazakh wedding ceremony is called Neke Qiyu (Kazakh: Неке Қию). The wedding process may take many weeks and even months to complete. This is because a Kazakh marriage, like marriages in most Muslim societies, involves a contract between families which requires negotiation. The Neke Qiyu is a small portion of the whole, and usually takes about a half an hour to complete.
The Neke Qiyu usually takes place on the evening of the day the bride is revealed to her groom's family. This festive ceremony is called betashar (Kazakh: Беташар) or "revealing of the face." After she shows respect to her groom's family, the veil is lifted and the bride receives a kiss from her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law then puts a white scarf on her head to symbolize her marital status and then welcomes her into the groom's family.
After several hours a feasting, a mullah arrives. A mullah is a teacher of Islam who knows how to recite the Quran. He performs the Neke Qiyu. Even though the betashar is performed outside in the garden in the presence of many relatives and friends, the Neke Qiyu is performed inside with close relatives only. The mullah and the couple sit facing one another. He briefly recites some verses from the Quran and asks the couple to confess the faith of Islam. When this ceremony is done, the couple must go and register their marriage at the state registry office, a practice introduced in the Soviet period.
The brief ceremony at the registration office is called a AHAZH (Kazakh: Азаматтық Халық Актілерін Жазу (АХАЖ), Russian: ЗАГС). The AHAZH also features a procession of cars decorated in ribbons, which stops to take pictures along the way. In the city of Turkistan in southern Kazakhstan, the photos must include one of the couple at the Yasawi Shrine. For many progressive families the AHAZH has almost replaced both the Neke Qiyu and the betashar.
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