Monday, July 13, 2009


I was at the Cyber internetting when suddenly there was big excitement outside--drums, hooting, and yelling. We all rushed out and there was a donkey-pulled cart loaded with presents, followed by neighbors, friends and relatives, touring the streets of town to announce the wedding of Fatima's daughter. I rushed home to don my jellaba, fancy white scarf, and Arabic sandals--gifts from the host family whose daughter was celebrating the wedding! I hurried over to the house just in time to see the donkey being unhitched from the cart. Salaams, kisses, and hugs were exchanged. Then my host's daughter Rasheta, hurried me inside to what used to be my bedroom.
Ensconced on a high throne at the end of the room was the bride, dressed in forest green satin damask heavily embroidered with gold and gems. Her hands and feet were outstretched and painted with henna in intricate designs, her head was crowned with an elaborate sculpted hairpiece studded with glowing jewels. Mint tea and sweet bread were served to those assembled in the room. Then two attendants came with a gold basin and pitcher to wash the henna from her feet and hands, leaving the stain of the henna designs on her skin. She was carried from the room. Now Rasheta rushed over to me, grabbing my hand and motioning me outside. A huge tent (maybe 40x60 ft) had been erected. The inside was carpeted with matching dark red Persian rugs, partially covered with round tables bearing a white underskirt and a dark red or gold topper. All the chairs were completely encased in red damask covers. Each table seated 12 and there were enough to seat 200, with an open wide center aisle. A band consisting of a keyboard, drum, and a violin played in an upright position balanced on the knee. There was also a lead singer. The music was fairly loud but relatively good ( or else I just getting used to the sound) We seemed to wait endlessly, but finally in came the bride, balanced on the shoulders of four men dressed in a white cape-like garment and white harem pants, sporting red pointed caps. The bride was elegantly dressed in another colorful beaded gown and crowned with a gold tiara (there were so many outfits I lost track of the colors).

Four other men in the same outfits danced around the group bearing the bride. All the while the bride was being spun around and bounced up and down, trying to maintain her balance while smiling and waving to the crowd. She was finally seated on a double throne covered in white satin beribboned with bows and flowers. Then the groom was brought in and treated to the same spinning and bouncing entrance. After they both were seated came photo op time as one group after another vied for a chance to pose with the couple.

This procedure was followed at least six times over the course of the evening. I lost track. One time the couple fed each other a sweet and a cup of tea from a gold cup. On another they exchanged rings. In between there was dancing by the guests, not as couples, but individually including all ages and both men and women, boys and girls. We were again served tea and a sweet, later bread and tajines holding three roasted chickens were delivered to each table, followed by a tajine of lamb covered with prunes. Both these dishes were eaten by dipping small pieces of the bread (the bread is like pita bread only plate size) into the common bowl and securing a piece of meat as well as the juices. This is quickly transfered to the mouth. Bottles of orange soda, Pepsi, and water were placed on each table. Dessert was a huge watermelon cut into serving slices and surrounded by honeydew melon chunks. And the music and dancing contined and the bride came again in another outfit, followed by the groom. At one point small decorative boxes of those cookies the women had been baking for two weeks in 3pm to midnight marathon, were given to each guest. And the dancing continued. Actually it's not dancing by out standards. The women raise their arms and swivel their hips in a senuous movement, all the time hollering and clapping in time with the music. The bride finally came in again. This time elegantly gowned as a bride, but with the same swirling around--his time as she stood. After that display the party seemed to wind down a bit and it was my clue to go home. Unfortunately I forgot my cookies, but when I left the tent I was surprised at how light it still was. I had arrived at eight o'clock and it wasn't dark yet. Arriving inside my door, I was extremely to discover it was six o'clock in the morning.