Customs & traditions of marriage in Yemen [Archives:2005/803/Culture]

January 3 2005

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Rituals, customs and traditions of marriage in Yemen vary from one area to another. The diverse geographical terrains of Yemen have their influence on diversifying marriage-related activities.

Generally, customs and traditions of marriage seem to be similar in most of the Yemeni cities, as it starts with engagement.

The groom usually sends one of his relatives to the family of the girl he wants to be engaged to.

When the family of the girl consents, an date will be assigned for the bridegroom to bring his parents and some relatives to visit and see the girl and her parents.

Relatives of the groom usually carry with them some presents to the bride-to-be and some bunches of qat as a social habit associating such occasions.

Presents given to the bride differ from one place to another. A box of gold containing earrings, armlets as well as a sum of money is to be given to the family of the fiancee as an evidence of engagement.

Afterwards, the bride's father invites his neighbors to attend the engagement session in order to assign an appointment for the marriage contract.

During the period between the engagement and the wedding party, the fiance makes visits and offers different kinds of presents to his fiancee.

At the bride's home, the marriage dowry (a certain sum of money) is due to be agreed between the two parties, and many bags of sweets will be offered to the host of attendants and the relatives of the bride as well.

Marriage rituals go on according to the facilities of the groom and many families prepare the feast at their home one day before the wedding party.

The evening prior to the wedding party witnesses that many friends of the groom dye his hands with henna.

On her wedding day, the bride wears a certain kind of clothes and this varies from one area to another; she seems to be covered entirely from her head to her feet. Besides, the bride is decorated with henna in various attractive forms.

The bride does not uncover her face until she arrives at the home of groom in the evening of the wedding party. After the bride's arrival, a huge ceremony will be organized including different kinds of dances and sings. The ceremony of men is separated from that of women.

On the following day, the bride goes to a beauty salon to organize her hair, dyes many parts of her body, wears a white dress and then immediately moves to the wedding hall. A number of invited women will be there in the hall before the bride's arrival.

On the other hand, the groom goes to another hall a long with a great number of invited men. After the fall night prayer, the groom moves to stand in front of his house surrounded by all the invited and a band of singers for almost one hour.

On the day following the wedding party, the groom makes a visit to his father-in-law and mother-in-law to shake hands with them.

In some areas, the mother of the bride holds a ceremony for her daughter at her home.

In the western parts of Yemen such as Tihama, some traditions like the circumcision of the bride and the groom accompanies the wedding rituals.