Saturday, October 17, 2009

Always & Forever

For me the gap between Arab and non-Arab cultures is the most obvious when it comes to the process of getting married. Oh and when you die {see wgaw blog archive on: mourning}.

Everything which could possibly be different is, and it's so different you sometimes wonder if you're actually talking about the same thing.  Infact there's so much to explain it's not all going to fit in one blog post, so this week there'll be three posts all talking about marriage.  Then next week we'll do the divorce post.

The entire strategy of marriage in the Gulf seems to come from a different place and was explained to me thus;
“Traditional Arabs believe marriage should foster love rather than be as a result of love. The main aim in the pre-nuptual negotiations are financial security and status within the community.”

That makes sense, it truely does. It's not that long ago we were doing the same thing in the West.

But what doesn't make sense to me is the separation of the sexes during times of extreme joy (weddings) and extreme distress (funerals) by the way who on earth put the 'fun' part in the word funeral? And this seperation at such emotional times is probably the only thing, after all these years in the Gulf, that still seems truely strange.  Please send the arguements, maybe something will finally resonate with me?

I remember attending a wedding where I became so sad for the bride and the bride's father I started to cry; he couldn’t see his daughter looking so radiant and she couldn't be with her father at probably the most important event of her life.

At the time I was still mourning the death of my own father and remember thinking what a lost opportunity it was.  I also remember thinking I was acting totally out of the cultural norms.  It's unusual for a father to attend the wedding of his own daughter and not very many woman would expect their father to be there.

However, that does seem to be changing and the last couple of weddings I atteneded various male relatives attended the female party for about half an hour.  And at a couple the boys/men were dancing with the girls.  Fun times.


Overview
Wedding celebrations take place for real marriages, but not for hourly, daily or weekly marriages {see wgaw archive on: muta & misyar} and can last up to a week. In my experience I’ve found them exhausting; happy events, but exhausting.

Once the henna party has been held {see wgaw archive on: henna} all thoughts move onto the wedding night itself.

These days wedding parties are usually held in hotels although they are also held in tents {see wgaw archive on: death in a tent}, with tradition dictating the groom pays.  He either takes money from his savings or he takes out a loan from the bank. Because weddings have become so expensive a couple of solutions have been introduced recently; mass/group weddings and donations from the government (especially in the UAE) to help cover the costs.


Timing
Weddings take place throughout the year but there are two months for Sunnis (Ramadan and Muharram) and three months for Shi'ites (Ramadan, Muharram, Saffar) when tradition dictates no one marries {see wgaw archive on: 5 pillars of Islam}.  That means for these months we're all attending a lot of weddings; I've got four and my boss has six.

Wedding ceremonies can take place on any day of the week, but always take place in the evening. This gives the bride all day to get ready and she is then able to appear at the wedding reception, looking absolutely gorgeous, on the arms of her husband at around 11pm.


What's Next?
On Monday the blog post will explain what occurs at female-only wedding receptions.




9 comments:

wgaw said...
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Christine said...

Thanks for your post again I learned a lot! Thanks for the change of layout...way easier to read!

To the post itself...as some of my friends and friends of my family happen to be muslim, I know about this separation during wedding and funerals. And I am surprised by it a lot. I never understood that. On the other hand...as private matters should not be discussed in public, than emotions shouldn't be shown neither. And emotions will be present on such occasions. We believe what we want to believe.

Thanks again for keeping posting!

wgaw said...

christine, good to see you here, thanks for posting

fad-fadat nour said...

I don't have any first-hand experience on Gulf weddings, but in Egypt it's all so different.However, lately some "extremists" are copying the gulf wedding parties with the separation between men & women. I haven't been to any such weddings yet, but my friends have!

The idea promoted in Egypt is that women get more freedom at such weddings to wear makeup, soiree ( non- hijabi) dresses & to dance without having men around.

At the "normal"/ default weddings in Egypt most/ some women already do all this - except wear "non-Hijabi dresses" for veiled women.

wgaw said...

fad-fadat, good to see you here and thanks for posting about Egypt.

wgaw said...
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