Wonders of weddings

A collection of gifts at a Libyan wedding. photo by Nafha Maani

What you need to know:

MARVELS. Weddings are usually happy occasions, that’s why I guess we have so many wedding crashers! I think people look for occasions to be happy, a venue where they can enjoy music, dance and of course fine food. That is not all.

Not all weddings are happy events, this is mainly when a girl is forced into a marriage due to circumstances beyond her control. I attended one such wedding when I was only 12 years old. One afternoon, as we always did after finishing our homework, I was playing with my neighbour, she was a year older than me. But that particular afternoon, there was a lot of movement in their house, light decorations were being installed and the women of the house were busy cooking in big pots that usually came out on big occasions. Just before sunset my friend was called back to the house, she reluctantly left us behind playing. Before she left I asked her if she knew what the celebrations were for, she had no clue.

Guess who?
An hour later, her mother came to our house and talked to my mother inviting her for a wedding in their house. While congratulating her, my mother asked whose wedding it was.
When the name of the bride was mentioned, I almost fainted! It was my friend’s wedding, the one who was only one year older than me, and with whom I was playing just an hour ago! I could no longer wait, I ran to their house and asked for her, her aunt told me that she was taking a bath and that I will no longer see her or play with her. “She will be a woman now, and will no longer play with you”.

My friend was rare
For almost a week we did not have access to her, and after that, when my mother and I went to take her a gift, I met a veiled statute that did not say a word during the visit.
Many years later, I met her again and we talked of that day, and she seemed to have accepted her fate, ‘this is our culture’ she told me ‘and we can’t run away from it’.
Seven nights of partying
At this point I have to balance my article by mentioning one of the happiest weddings I have been to, and that is definitely, the one I attended in Tripoli, Libya. Of course this was still during the times of the late president Muammar Gaddafi, when it was safe to travel to Libya. This was the wedding of a Libyan friend’s daughter.

Colourful and cool
My friend decided to have a big traditional wedding for her daughter which included seven nights of partying. Of course this wedding was one where the bride was a very happy one, and we all shared her joy.
For six days leading to the main wedding night, we celebrated a different tradition, which was very colourful and joyous. The last night was when she wore the white dress and officially went to her husband’s home. This was truly a wonderful occasion.