Marriage Rituals in Sanaa [Archives:1998/19/Culture]

May 11 1998

The bridegroom’s family usually sends some people who are well known to the bride’s family to ask for the hand of their daughter. If the bride’s family agree to the proposal, an appointment is set to discuss the dowry, the costs of the wedding ceremony and other details.
The next step is the engagement of the couple (khitbah), which is a ceremony in which the groom presents a ring, some perfumes, a set of gold jewelry and some clothes to the bride. Also, the groom gives some clothes as a present to the bride’s relatives such as the mother and grandmother. The bride wears the clothes, the ring and the jewelry. Some coffee, tea, milk and cakes are presented to the guests during the engagement ceremony.
After the two families agree on everything then comes the marriage contract (‘aqd). At the time the marriage contract is being consummated, the relatives of the groom bring with them some raisins and almonds. A judge (qadhi) is invited to finalize the contract. The signing of the contract is attended by the groom and his family along with the bride’s family and some relatives. After performing the contract of marriage, the raisins and the almonds are scattered over the hands of the groom and the father-in-law.
At this point, the bride and groom become wife and husband.
In Sanaa, on the day of the wedding day, there is a musical party where a female singer and a drummer lead the procession carrying the bride. The bride wears an expensive dress and women dance during the festive party.
On the second day, a woman comes to clothe the bride with a silk dress and an embroidered veil. The bride wears a coral necklace.
The face of the bride is covered during these two days. Also, during the second day some Shazab (scented shrub) is put into the vases in front of the bride during the wedding procession.
Some incense is put into the censers to protect the bride from the evil eye. At night, a woman dapples the bride, her sisters and her aunts with henna at the bride’s family expense.
At the third day of the marriage, the bride’s family hosts a banquet for the bridegroom and his relatives, and the attendants come in the afternoon to celebrate the wedding. The bride wears the traditional white dress and the Yemeni crown which is like a triangle and is laiden with gold.
Then, the bride goes to the party and the groom is carried in a procession in the street. At the end of the wedding procession, the bride goes to her bridegroom’s house along with her father, uncle and brother. When she arrives at the home of her bridegroom, relatives of the bridegroom break some eggs by her feet.
At the fourth day, the guests dance in the morning in front of the bridegroom’s house and then he goes along with the guests for a drive.
At the fifth day, the bridegroom visits his father-in-law along with his bride. The bridegroom gives some money to his father-in-law and mother-in-law.
At the seventh day, the family of the bride visits the bridegroom’s family and they eat lunch together. The bride is carried in procession until the night. The relatives of the bride, holds a party called “Taskama” and that may be after 10 days or one month.
Khairiya Al-Shabeebi