Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Sudanese Wedding Rituals and Traditions

The Sudanese wedding lasts for more than five days, family and friends come from near and far. Visitors often stay with the family, adding to the cost of these elaborate, exotic and costly series of celebrations. Weddings of course vary between the regions of Sudan and from family to family.

'Qolatkheer' is the gathering held by the elderly people from both families this is the occasion where the couple meet and become acquainted with each other; it is also the time when the groom's father asks for the bride's hand in marriage. After the engagement is announced the couple enjoy this period getting to know each other and set a date for the marriage.

Wedding preparations begin with the bride – tradition requires her to indulge in month long bathing rituals together with infusions of specially made perfumes and 'bakhoor'. All these preparations are done by her relatives and friends and held in her father's house. They have to ensure she will be glowing and gorgeous on her wedding day.

A henna party comes after this month which combines treats, sweets, and singing while the bride is being decorated with henna on both her hands and legs for luck and to ward off evil spirits.

Fascinatingly, the groom also has his own henna night where his male friends and his female's relatives join him. He has henna painted on his hands and legs to indicate he is a groom. The henna is not restricted to him only but also three of his closest male friends.

The next day after the henna parties, the wedding contract is signed, and is usually held in a mosque. The groom and the bride won't be present but represented by two close relatives on their behalf. Christian couples will have their church ceremony on this day. In the afternoon a lunch feast is served to the relatives and friends of both families in a tent beside the bride's house.

The following day is the Western style wedding party usually at a hotel or in a hall. The bride will wear a white bridal gown and the groom will wear a tuxedo. The bride will perform the 'sobheya' or the bridal dance - a dance routine she has practiced for weeks and includes a number of dress changes!

Musicians will play Sudanese songs and the couple and their guests spend the evening dancing followed by dinner. If this party is held in urban areas, the party will end at 11:00 pm, however in the villages and rural areas the wedding lasts till sunrise.

The last event day is the traditional Sudanese wedding celebration called 'Jertig' . It could be called the ' red day' as red is the prominent theme, it is also thought this colour wards off the evil eye and brings good fortune to the couple. The bride will wear a red silk ' toub' and is seated on a red covered and beautifully decorated wooden bed; nearby is a silver platter holding Sudanese perfumes, incense; sweets, dates and cups of milk.

The groom arrives with his family wearing a white silk and gold embroidered 'surti' he also holds a sword and black beads. He takes his seat with his bride while the guests greet the couple with enthusiastic ululating and music.

The evening is heady with perfume and incense. It is customary for the couple to give each other dates and sweets seven times; afterwards the bride and groom offer treats to their guests.

Following this ritual the couple sips the glasses of milk and then spray each other with it as a sign of love and peace – as pure as milk. The groom showers the guests with perfume. The evening is alive with music, dancing, pervasive perfumes and ongoing celebrations.

The following day the bride's family hosts a feast for the groom's family to celebrate the unity and merging of their families.

*culled from www.aroosjoon.com

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