It’s not been long since I first learned about marriage ceremonies in Islam – perhaps about 2 years, when I made Nafis describe it to me in great detail… And I remember I was very surprised when he told me that after the marriage ritual is performed, the groom and the bride see each other in a mirror. Naturally I was like – “But why? As if they haven’t seen each other before or won’t look at each other from then on”… Well he didn’t really manage to explain it to me too well, but… I have been thinking about it when occasions popped in. Like when I was reading “A Thousand Splendid Suns” and the narrator describes Miriam’s wedding – she sees a man’s big and quite old face in the mirror and thinks “so this is my husband”… And then when Nafis’s childhood friend got married and I saw pictures of the bride and the groom and the mirror J
So last night as I was trying to fall asleep I was randomly thinking about this again… (quite random, I admit). But I was thinking of me being the bride (ami jani - jani, bhaia…) and having that mirror in front of me thinking ‘so this is, now, my husband…’ So I realized that, despite different interpretations of this mirror as being a symbol of purity and cleanliness, or a window to the Holy Quran, which is usually held under the mirror, or for good luck, or because the bride and groom are supposed to be shy and not look at each other in front of their parents… that mirror has quite a definite and rational role in a discreet way… which is exactly of realizing that the person sitting next to you is now your husband or your wife and seeing them as they are…
I realized recently that the image we have of ourselves is our own image and not really how the others see us… and I mean this literally, not the larger image of self that each of us have… I realized this on a recent visit to the Wellcome Collection, where they actually had a mirror that reflected the way the others see you – quite cool and it’s weird that I never thought of this before. So this ‘truth’ mirror shows how the other people see you – and it is a different image and, for me, it was a weird sensation... I also remembered that, when I look into the mirror and there is someone else besides me, my image of them is somewhat different and I often have the sensation of - ‘oh, so this is X…’. And this is because I see them as they see themselves and not as I usually see them!
So, coming back to the mirror and the wedding – it all makes a lot more sense now. I guess when one looks into that mirror and sees their new spouse it really is a moment of “So this is it! You’re my husband/ wife now and with you as you are I will spend the rest of my life (or a number of years, depending on the perspective :P). And with you as you are I’ll share everything and with you I’ll have to deal every day.” And hopefully, and perhaps if they love each other, they would also thinks something like ‘cool, I can really imagine doing that – I’m glad it’s you J’
I suppose this would really help at a time when one minute you’re single the other you’re married and so many things happen around you.
In conclusion, I don’t know how this whole thing sounds, but I feel like it’s a nice working theory for myself J and it feels good when I can explain myself something – not that this is not what my brain does every day.