Every religion and culture has its own traditions and ways when it comes to celebrating a wedding. In this post we will be looking at arabian weddings, in order to understand their laws, customs, dress and rites.
We must consider that the United Arab Emirates covers a very extensive area and that every subculture has its own rites, although there do exist some common elements.
The biggest characteristic of an arabian wedding is that the bride is always the centre of attention, which is dignified in order to make her worthy of her future husband. These types of weddings are usually very fun parties where dance, golden colours, arabian sweets and traditional food are abundant.
- The bride is the centre of attention and when she is getting ready her mother, sisters, cousins etc are all involved, as they are in charge of all her clothing. As well as accompanying her in this process, they must help her follow the ‘symbolic death walk’ until she arrives at maturity, which she will reach the moment of getting married.
- In Arabian traditions the use is stated of Hamman (arabian baths) for the purification of the bride. It is of such importance in these first wedding rites that the bride is accompanied by hairstylists, makeup artists and stylists, that will help her so she shines on her wedding day. Furthermore, they will also decorate her with different Henna symbols on her hands and feet in order to ward off bad spirits.
- The bride is escorted and accompanied by women with candles, incense, songs and dance that allude to her beauty and the process of life.
- The mother-in-law will present the bride with a tray of keys, bread and milk. The keys represent welcome to the family and the food represents abundance.
- The Arabian wedding doesn’t just symbolise the union of the bride and groom, it symbolises the union of the families, which is why the giving of gifts is so important between families.
- The groom and the man that accompany him will be in charge of receiving the bride.
- During the dance, the women make a circle and dance with exotic movements and after the men form a circle around them.
- Arabian weddings are very colourful, which is why they look so attractive to those who have never attended one, and the dances are one of the most flashy elements.
Dress code at an Arabian wedding
The clothing is modest. The men usually wear a white thawb or a suit and tie. The brides dress in an abaya (a robe of different colours), veil and niqab (a veil that covers the face, leaving room for the eyes).
The guests usually wear dresses ranging from white to strong colours, even bright, tight-fitting at the waist and body, and heavily embellished in rhinestones. Dresses with front neck and back, with dazzling jewellery. In regards to the makeup, the eyes are well made up, lips painted with pencil in a shade of red. The hair is well styled and often with hair extensions.
For the wedding, the bride is decorated with henna tattoos on hands and feet that serve to ward off the bad spirits. Each symbol painted has a meaning, some of them are: the circle being the symbol of the absolute, the triangle with the top point up represents fire and the masculine, the triangle with the top pointing down indicates water and the female.
In Arabian weddings one places a lot of emphasis on the link between two families from the wedding on. Therefore, the tradition is that the mother-in-law has the responsibility of giving the bride a tray with milk and dates; a set of keys and a loaf of bread.
The bride and groom offer each other dates and milk, symbolising fortune and purification of the bride’s life. The keys are a sign of welcome to the new home and the bread, baked by the mother-in-law with flour brought by the bride’s mother, represents the union between the two families.