I think what I’m about to describe is an intersection of several cultures that include, but may not be limited to, Muslim culture + Jordanian culture + a certain part of society within both. It is information that has come to me through an extremely interesting conversation conducted in both English and Arabic with lovely Asma, my new language partner as well as a pretty fabulous 28yo person, in general. She’s married, Muslim-with-headscarf (important to underline as not all Muslim women wear one and that changes some aspects of celebrations*), and Jordanian, so she knows her stuff – but she also made sure to point out that things are not done in exactly the same way everywhere; hence I hereby acknowledge the limit of my story.
So. Weddings. One of my favourite topics ever, something that always excites me despite my distance from it in personal terms. Sometimes friends and family tell me I should write about the different weddings I’ve participated in as bridesmaid/ maid of honour/ etc in Italy, the UK, Canada, India, the USA and now Jordan too, and I kinda like the idea; but I think I need to wait for more (French wedding coming up in 2017, as a matter of fact! 😉 ). Meanwhile, this doesn’t mean I can’t do some research and take notes!!
How does it work, then?
Asma told me that the very first step towards a wedding is a verbal agreement between families. This could work in different ways depending on how well the two families knew each other already, but in case of positive news it will result in a contract in some kind of court, together with the payment of an agreed dowry from the wannabe groom to the wannabe bride! Such dowry will basically ensure she has all the money she needs to… well, beautify herself and all such activities related to the preparation of the wedding celebration; something I of course highly approve of!! (haha, no, joking – if I ever get married I don’t plan on investing much money on that, I trust my family’s DIY skills!). Then come the bachelor and bachelorette parties, which are respectively called sahra (meaning some sort of late-night party, if I understood correctly) and henna party (we got that one okay). These are for the two separate families of the future couple, though the ladies from the groom’s side do participate to the henna party for an hour or so, to sing propitious songs about the bride going to be part of their family soon etc etc. The following day a mansaf-based lunch is organised by the groom’s father for really really close guests exclusively. And then, in a fairly unclear timeline because I forgot to ask for specifics, the wedding party itself happens and we’ve seen one happen already 😉
*Note that at the henna party the bride would show her hair with a beautiful decoration, because there wouldn’t be any outsider men; while at the wedding party her hair would be covered. Then, once she’s married, it’s okay for her not to cover her hair in front of her father-in-law; but not in the presence of her husband’s brothers. And in case of divorce, hear this: the ex-husband will not be considered to be in her circles anymore, but her father-in-law still will, as grandfather of her children!!! Pretty cool story 🙂