Adonis Diaries

Traditional Wedding: Kuwait

Posted on: June 12, 2009

Traditional Wedding in Kuwait of the 40’s (June 13, 2009)

It is ancient Kuwait City, around 1945.  Kuwait was a fishing coast; contraband activities were the life line; and divers extracted pearls.

Desert storms chased inhabitant in their mud houses; a long sort of minaret at the center of houses with holes absorbed the hot sandy air and sent fresh cool air to the underground chambers.

It barely rain in this region of the Arabic/Persian Gulf, at most 15 mm of rain.  The residences are built around a square large cistern; rain is directed toward a large cloth extended over the cistern that filters rain water off the sand.

It is said that when the tiny Sabbah tribe settled in this region, already two larger tribes were in constant fighting. The two big tribes settled their differences by agreeing that the leader of the Sabbah tribe plays the impartial judge.

This is the marriage transaction for young Ibrahim who never saw his bride.  His bride Mariam is not a cousin and thus Ibrahim did not see her as a child before girls wear the veil before the age of 14.

A specialized marrying lady (for commission) recommended Mariam to Ibrahim’s mother.

Mariam made sure to escape so that the visiting woman does not see her and scrutinize her from head to toe and thus would have no indications on the suitability of Mariam to her son.

The obstinate mother finally saw Mariam and gave her acknowledgment for the transaction to proceed.   Ibrahim’s father got to work; he gathered intelligence on the bride’s family social and financial status. The financial deal between the two fathers set the marriage in motion.

The two families gathered to arrange the date of the wedding and the delivery of the “adaza” or trousseau.  Weding dates are in general on Thursday evenings.  The women of Ibrahim’s family and their neighbors march to the bride’s house singing and banging on tambourine.

The marching women were bringing the cloths, winter and summer attires, blankets, two “abayas”, and carried by a woman over her head. Among the offering is a purse with liquid money.

Fruits, cakes, all kinds of coffee and sugary tasty bits were served.  Then the women examine every piece of garment, except the purse that went straight to the bosom of the mother-in-law.  Ibrahim’s mother was not to attend this part of the ceremony by tradition.

One week after the presentation of the “adaza” the two fathers met to decide on the wedding date.

A few days before the wedding the two father gathered in the mosque to register the marriage in front of the religious “sheikh”; this is the official contract.

In Islam, the bride is to participate in writing the terms of the contract but since they are married young and are practically illiterate, then tradition usurped the brides’ rights.

The evening of the wedding the parent’s of the bride and their neighborhood arrived to the groom’s house and they were assembled in the “diwania”, the spacious formal meeting place of men in a house.

Ibrahim’s father was to attend the fifth and last prayer in the mosque.  The women walked to the bride’s house to bring Mariam chanting “youyou”.  Strong women carried the mattress and the pillows destined for the couple.

The men arrived sprayed with rose water by the masses and perfumed with the smoke of sandalwood.  Ibrahim and his father walked in front.  Ibrahim was left alone among the women waiting for the bride.  Five young girls carried the chair mounted by Mariam who was completely covered; women were sending their benedictions.

This part of the ceremony also Ibrahim’s mother was not supposed to attend.

The new couple was left alone. Ibrahim removed the cover off Mariam.  Mariam was scared and terribly shy.

Before the wedding, an old woman instructed Mariam on the secrets of intercourse and she was to remain close to Mariam for another week after the wedding.  During the first night women kept up the chanting and crying, supposedly to cover up the screaming of the bride.

In the morning, Ibrahim is to leave the tenth of the agreed upon sum under the bride pillow; the mother-in-law knew where to retrieve this sum.  Early in the morning, Ibrahim is to return to his father’s home and leave his wife sleeping, only to return by night fall; this procedure is to last three days.

On the third evening, Ibrahim’s mother and her women friends were to visit with the bride.  The bride was sitting on a throne, in a corner, so that all women could contemplate her at leisure. Mariam was covered with jewelry and looking-like an idol.

A week later, the parents of the mother-in-law were to escort Mariam to her new residence.

The mother-in-law was denied to share in this part of the ceremony; she was to be invited three days later with the utmost fast.

For an entire week Mariam was to sit still covered with heavy jewelries; some jewelry were borrowed for this week to weight on Mariam’s head.  Mariam fainted on the last day.

In general, the bride undergoes thorough epilating process. Both genders are washed and their hair, palm and feet dyed with “henne”.  Henne was used by mariners and fishermen to toughen the skin of their hands and feet.

Black “khol” was smeared around the eyes to detract mosquitoes and flies off the eyes.

It is 1968. Ibrahim gained several inches in rotundity.

Mariam is skinny, supple, elegant, and gorgeous. The couple has seven kids.

Ibrahim is contemplating to marry again under the pretence of needing more boys.  Mariam is not rebelling but Ibrahim is receiving signs of her refusal.  Ibrahim could marry again if he wishes but it is a very costly project: Ibrahim would have to build an extension to the house for the new wife and pay an enormous sum for the family of the new wife and the wife too.

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adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

June 2009
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