Monday, January 23, 2012

...a wedding

Meena invited me to attend her uncle's wedding last week, and I was delighted.  I ask the girls about customs--should I bring a gift?  What should I wear? What time should I show up?  They said not to bring a gift--no one does, and to be there about 8:30 p.m.  As for what to wear, they were quite adamant.  "Miss, wear a dress, do your hair, and put on some makeup!" I said I would do my best.

The wedding was quite an experience.  I got there a bit late because I couldn't find the hall, but was warmly welcomed when I arrived.  I didn't recognize Meena when she came up to me.  At school Meena wears her hair pulled back off her face, no makeup, and dresses in her school uniform with chucks on her feet.  The young woman before me had eyeliner galore, hair styled and hanging down past her waist, and a form-fitting sequened gown on.  I gasped; she laughed.  Meena led me to a table where other students from our school were sitting.  I sat down and looked around in wonder.  There were about 50 tables in the hall, and each one had a huge platter of rice and (goat? lamb?) meat on it.  Even though I was late there was still plenty of food.  This hall was for the ladies only, and I imagine there were as many tables laid in the men's hall.  The women were dressed much like Meena--over the top hair, makeup, and dresses.  I have never seen Emirate women in anything but their black abayas, so this was an eye-opener. 

 I was in time to see the bride come in--by herself--for a photo op.  She then sat down on a throne on the stage and waited.  Soon, a black veil was draped over her head, and the women started putting their abayas and shaylas on.  I knew this meant that men would be coming in. The groom arrived with the men in his family.  They danced with their canes down the center aisle, stopping to greet guests along the way. The groom's father (and Meena's grandfather) was a wizened old man who cried as he made his way up the aisle. It was touching to see.  This part of the pageantry felt very ancient to me. I can imagine Bedoins with their tents set up side by side, then the men of one family coming to claim the new bride for their family. The men finally made it to the stage where the bride was seated and they continued dancing.  Women from their family (close relatives who did not have to cover their faces) joined in the dance.  After some time the groom sat down next to the bride and the veil was removed from her face.  He saw his new wife's face for the very first time.  There were many, many photos taken, and then the couple processed out of the building.  Once all the men were gone, the women removed their abayas and shaylas and started dancing.  Do they ever move!  I left soon after that, but not before one of the girls made me go out and dance with her!  It was a delighful experience, and I hope to be invited again sometime.

1 comment:

Arlene said...

va va voom, Boy do you fancy up nice.