Wednesday, 7 December 2011
(Thank you Sextant ! See the second pic is in the text !! So simple when you know how!)
I was privileged to attend a Moslem wedding on Sunday as the bride's father is one of my husband's staff. What an amazing experience. Firstly, the 500 guests - with spare tables in the back in case more pitched up. The dad told us he sent out 200 formal invitations but family are simply told the date and expected to come. The venue was stunning and the food excellent: apparently, many family members contribute quite large cash gifts to help with the wedding and the young couple are also helped with a house or flat. There were loads of gifts on display. I had worried about what to wear so settled for trousers, a long top and scarf. Other women, especially some of the younger ones, hadn't worried to dress conservatively, but they were few amongst the traditional scarves and saris, some of which were quite magnificent. It was an absolute delight to have no alcohol - copious jugs of juice and water were constantly brought to our table, which was just as well as it was a hot day, and it took two hours for all the guests to arrive before the proceedings started. There were a lot of bridesmaids and groomsmen and the whole entourage sat on the platform, although without any parents. There were no speeches just what I presume was a blessing - sung in Arabic (ten minutes long) and then the MC called up a dignitary he called the "Chef" to the microphone and he intoned something for a similar length of time.
Then it was the 3-course meal, which had been preceded by fresh fruits at the table, then photographs on the stage and then the best part - three Hajis (older women who have done the Haj) - came to take the bride away to her new home where traditionally they would instruct her what to expect and how to behave on her wedding night. First, they placed a dark fur cape around her shoulders and then, the Hajis all dressed in immaculate white saris (the bride in a traditional European gown) they walked slowly through the centre of the guests, who kissed the bride who was accompanied by a beautiful song sung by all the women guests, haunting, soft and almost sad. That was the end and people started to leave. The bridegroom would be waiting for her at the new house - and we were home by 8.00 p.m. Such an eye-opener, a glimpse into another culture and traditions.