A love story fit for a Bollywood romance. Talaia Naz and Mustafa Siddiqui tied the knot in a most beautiful and unexpected way six years ago, but the tale is still fresh in their minds. Compulsive Magazine was privileged to hear how it all unfolded.

They first met as Masters students at Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, India. According to Talaia, their fate had already been written in the stars, so to speak, as they had made the same academic choices even before they met and their lives were somehow intertwined on the same path.

During a college trip to the Taj Mahal, they got to know each other and developed a special bond. Soon they realized that it was a bond never to be broken and they wanted to get married. Mustafa proposed to Talaia in May of 2011 and by November they were married.

“My parents would have preferred an arranged marriage,” recollects Talaia. “My father eventually approved, but he wanted me to complete my Ph.D. first. That would have meant waiting a further 5 years,” she chuckles.

It all happened in 18 hours

One day in November, Talaia fell sick so her knight in shining armor, Mustafa took her to the hospital. But wait! This was unheard of in India! An unwedded couple traveling around the city together? When her father found out he was furious and decided the two should be married the very next day.

All family members whipped into action to arrange wedding invitations, decorations, clothing, henna, gold jewelry, biryani, chicken curry, savories, and sweets. It was an emotional kaleidoscope but somehow things came together in a burst of joy and color, all within 18 hours!

“On Saturday we attended college as students, Sunday we got married and Monday we appeared at our exam as a married couple. Our classmates were shocked,” says Talaia, playfully. In fact, many of their classmates who were invited to the wedding did not attend because they thought it was a prank. No one expected things to progress so swiftly.

The wedding, or ‘Nikah’, was small and intimate with just over a hundred guests at the bride’s home. She was picture perfect in her red and gold ‘Lehnga’ which is an Indian skirt with a matching blouse and scarf, traditional nose pin, gold necklace, and arms full of gold and red glass bangles. With Indian Muslim weddings, the bride and groom do not see each other until after the marriage is finalized.

“I remember that moment when I saw him for the first time after we were married. I was crying because I was sad to leave my family. But within minutes I was laughing again because I was with my best friend. He held my hand and told me everything was going to be ok,” says Talaia.

Days following the Nikah several other festivities were held including a Tumeric ceremony in which the bride and groom apply turmeric paste on their faces, a Henna ceremony, and of course, lots of singing and dancing and feasting on North Indian delights such as Kebabs, Beef Nehari (curry) and Gulab Jamun, which are small round balls of dough dipped in syrup. In December a proper reception was held with around 700 guests.

“In Indian traditions, the bride and groom usually don’t participate in the wedding planning at all. The bride just sits on the stage and smiles. At my reception, I sat on the stage for 3 or 4 hours! I was so hungry my friend had to bring something to eat so I wouldn’t get dizzy,” she recounts.

She adds fondly, “I probably think about my wedding every day.”

Now that they have both completed their PhDs and earned their titles, Dr. Talaia Naz and Dr. Mustafa Siddiqui plan to embark on the next exciting chapter of their lives together – starting a family. The endearing couple has spent the last few years teaching English abroad, and they are set to explore better career options elsewhere. They will certainly have a delightful story to share with their children one day!

- Photos by Fawwaz Masihuddin

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