Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Al-u3rs: Weddings

It’s been about a week ago, but I had the opportunity to go to a wedding here. Just on the basis of invitation, the process is really interesting. Weddings happen all of the time. Not like the U.S. There are always weddings there, but here it’s crazy. They seem like they happen all of the time because the “wedding sphere,” the bubble of people appropriate or necessary to invite is absolutely enormous. Consequently, there are invitations quite frequently. Just as an example, the wedding I went to was my sister’s coworker’s sister’s wedding.

There wasn’t a ceremony per se like you would expect in a Christian tradition wedding. I’m actually a bit fuzzy on this fact; many people that I’ve talked to, argue that it all is a ceremony. To understand it in “western” terms, the wedding was more like a wedding reception.

Most weddings are at night around nine, which is when we went. When we went inside, a giant reception hall, we sat down with some of my host sister’s friends and talked for a while. During this period everyone just mingled, saying hello to everyone.

At some point afterward, the bride, a3roos, walks down “the aisle” between the tables. Her dress was beautiful, but it was absolutely huge. Not meant for walking. I don’t know the exact history of wedding dress histories, but there appears to have been a strong western influence. It looked like a dress may look in the U.S.   

She sat up in front of the room on a giant couch and different people came up to meet with her and talk with her, take pictures with her. We went to grab food, but mostly during this period is further time to socialize, but also dance.

Oman is a rather conservative country. It’s not expressly forbidden, but going out without an abaya is rather looked down upon. But here, the room was just women. So people were walking around in beautiful dresses. Extremely detailed, most very sparkly. But they were all of varying styles. While almost all of the dresses extended to the feet, most shoulders were bare. Ironically, I borrowed an abaya from my host sister; I didn’t have an appropriate wedding dress.

This changed, though, after about an hour and half, when the only male guest arrived. Everyone went to their chairs and slowly gathered their scarves and abayas, draping them over their hair and dresses. Then they sat down and waited for the groom, a3rees, to walk through.

He wore traditional Omani clothing: a nice dishdasha, massar, and khanjar (I don’t have pictures because cameras weren’t allowed, but you should look it up). He walked up to the bride and lifted her veil. I was too far away from them to hear, it would have been mostly whispers anyway, but he then kissed her forehead and they both sat down together.

Then that was it. The wedding apparently extends for the family, but once the man comes, everyone leaves. I think this was the strangest part for me because it just felt like a mass flock.

With all of this, it’s necessary to keep in mind that this is all just one part of the process. I don’t know the rest of the traditions for an Omani wedding, but they’re out there. I have no idea what the men do, just as an example. Learnings for another time perhaps.    

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