Saturday, 14 January 2006

The death of tradition

Last week we attended a mixed marriage. A very dear childhood friend called me ,and invited us to his brother's wedding in AbuDhabi.(The brother works for ETIHAD).
Jokingly before he hung up he warned me to be prepared. i.e ,not to be shocked as the bride was not Sudanese. She is Palestinian.
Fair enough, on the designated day we dress up and get to the venue.

Talk about about culture shock!
At the entrance stand the Grooms/Brides parents to welcome the guests.
The Groom's father in traditional Sudanese outfit gleaming in white, and the mother wearing something in royal purple and covered modestly in the sudanese hijab, which resembles a saree somewhat. They both look so elegant and regal.
Camera pans over to Bride's parents. Mum is wearing what looks like a traditional Palestinian dress with an embellished belt, and Dad. Well Dad looks like he has stepped out of a Hugh Hefner plot. His flicked back hair, his mediterranean tan, and his velvet jacket. yes, very trendy and with it. Hmmmmmm.

Upon entering, my friend asks us to grab a seat. First thing you notice is the segregation of guests. the Sudanese community has decided to sit one end and the Palestinian the other. okay its a wedding so generally Groom's family vs Bride's family, that is normal. But the massive difference in the room is glaringly apparent.
This is made more prominent by the colour of the skin but worse by the apparel.
The Sudanese men are mostly in their white jallabiya and immaa (their piled on turban thingy) and the women in exquisite dresses with their sequinned thobe's on top (the 9 yard saree like thing which they wrap themselves in).
Atypical of sudanese women the soles of their feet are black with henna and their hands decorated with intricate patterns.

Meanwhile on the other side, nudity is the order of the day. I was expecting there would be a lot of airline staff as he works in Etihad.
But apart from the perfect hair, and gallons of lipgloss; and No, really I am a natural blonde( IN MY DREAMS) hair. The number of barely restrained boobs fighting to burst out of confinement , the stillettos and the tiny tiny little dresses.
One question? Why do these women come to weddings wearing the dress they wore on their 3rd birthday?
Is it something traditional in Palestine? I mean I don't know much about Palestinian culture. Anyone???
Sorry one more question.
Why do they keep tugging at the dresses?
If it is modesty that compels them to cover their torsos why then the choice of apparel ?

Moving on. Obnoxiously loud music (it's in an enclosed ballroom, not open air - so the acoustics are only reverberating of the walls) and a DJ who looks so chronically like a DJ should look circa FLASHDANCE.
The dancing begins.
Ok one thing I notice is that the dancing style has a very JEWISH influence. The second thing is suddenly the focus shifts with GYPSY KINGS, and all the heavy duty LATINO dancing starts.
All that wiggling ,jiggling and gyrating. (Bear in mind the tiny dresses, the plunging necklines, and all these tottering on heels that would make a delightful murder weapon).
The COUPLE entered to GLORIA GAYNOR belting out "I WILL SURVIVE". Surely not the most appropiate song for their entrance.
Im beginnning to think I'm not at a wedding but in some RICKY MARTIN video.
This torture continued for a good 2 hours (what seemed like 10).

By now my love for my best friend has reached a dangerously low point. I am annoyed by all the overt sexuality, and seriously wishing I had not come.
I tell you the only thing missing was a "POLE".
(with apologies to cg and her profession)
Status of my family: My little one is too busy playing with the napkins knives and forks on the table, my 10 year old is bored and embarrassed by the dancing women, my husband who initially found the tits/ass festival enjoyable, is now uncomfortable with the raunchy activities, esp seated in front of his 10 year old daughter.
He keeps finding excuses to step out of the room to have a smoke or talk to my friend.
Blissfully the music ends ,and the women rush about trying to reorganise any errant boobies and sort out any "wedgies".
I am hoping that diner will be served and I can eat and get the heck out. Dammit, Im willing to leave now without the dinner if it was not rude.
This is when the music starts again, but at a more decent volume, and to my utter dismay, I realise that it is now time for the Groom's family to dance.
But MY GOD!!! What a DIFFERENCE!!!
The music is mellow, and the dancing is more of a slow lazy flowing river than the earlier "GRAND RAPIDS". More like yoga, or the wind down from an aerobic workout.
Breathe in breathe out ...exhale.... wheshhhhhhhhh

Dinner was served soon after, and I came away very very dissapointed.
For me "weddings"are a time of traditional values, family as well as social. The whole year through we are striving to be modern, with our westernised influences.
In our part of the world, weddings are where we will wear our traditional clothes, jewellery, henna, bangles, and all the things we associate with weddings.
The bride will wear her traditional outfit, and the groom; his.

Yes, times are changing and nothing remains the same.
But hey! Sorry Folks! Im just an old fashioned gal.


  1. Sounds like half the room was suffering from an identity crisis!

    Good to see you back, Kaya!


  2. Thanks love. Been a pretty chaotic 2 weeks. Its good to be back,even tho its only a reprieve.

  3. Photos? We need to confirm that what you say is da truth. Hehehe.

  4. LOL @ Keefie!
    i would post them too but I live in fear of a visit from the internet policeman. ;)

  5. ahhhhhhh that you should. watch out Kaya....

  6. Kaya - have placed a link on our blog to yours - hope you don't mind.

    Please email me at nzm_uae(at) if you want me to remove it.


  7. NZM Hun! Im touched Im flattered. Im ecstatic. Thankyou

  8. Palestinian and Sudanese… That’s one match you don't see much in inter-arab marriages. One is more likely to see syrain-lebanese, jordanian-palestian or egyptian-sudanese. But its less than often you see an african arab getting hitched to a ‘levantese’.

    In general, Arab weddings are organized in accordance to both families traditions. In most cases, traditional conservative arab families prefer to hold segregated weddings. Women get to have their own man-free venue. They get to dance their heads off and have a real guiltless paaahtaay.

    While gent, on the other hand, sit quietly in another hall (sometimes in a different hotel), make small talk, exchange greetings, eat and bugger off.

    In the case of mixed Arab weddings, it is a followed custom that the hall is split 2 halves. One side for the groom's invitees and the other for the bride's. This is to minimize the number of look-how-far-they-placed-my-table-at complaints.

    The other exceptional feature in that wedding you attended is that bride and groom work in the aviation industry. I suspect most of the, erm.. ladies you described are CCs who are, in most cases, in their mid-twenties, single-but-looking and most probably under the influence of oh-my-god-she-is-getting-married-and-i-am-not syndrome.. ;)

  9. Lol @ Moryarti!
    You just hit the nail right on the head.
    Those chicks will turn 30 and they will be still looking. Then they will turn 30 something and then NOBODY will be looking!
    Yes, infact growing up in Muscat I went to a lot of ZANZIBAARI weddings, and the henna ceremonies were truly an amzing sight. Them 'MAMAS'; big ones little ones would all be shaking their "MATAAKO'S", and having a solid good time. Anyone who has seen this lot dance learn a new meaning to the term BOOTY shake!

  10. Lol! Kaya. Just attented a mixed wedding myself, half indian half moroccan with a large guest circle of somalis from Kenya dancing to "Kipenda Roh" and "wanawake wazuri wazuri wameolewa" meaning "all the pretty girls are already taken", (Kaya perhaps you can correct my swahili). The shaking of "Mataako's" is lethal!

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