Street weddings: enjoyment mixed with fear [Archives:2006/936/Last Page]

April 10 2006
A huge wedding tent blocking one of the streets in Sanaa.
A huge wedding tent blocking one of the streets in Sanaa.
Yasser Al-Mayasi
Speaking about weddings in Yemen is varied and diverse. As wedding ceremonies differ from one area to another, each area has its own traditions; however, the greatest differences are often found in cities.

Economic anxiety and citizens' incomes recently had their impacts, even affecting the way wedding ceremonies are held. Holding wedding parties in cities is more expensive than in villages. In cities, hiring halls to receive men and another for women is added to the cost of paying the dowry. This has caused city residents, especially in Sana'a, to avoid holding wedding ceremonies in halls. Expensive men's ceremonies particularly are avoided.

Instead of wedding halls, streets became the alternative for wedding ceremonies. Wedding enjoyment and happiness is not an appropriate excuse for those holding ceremonies in the street due to their economic situation.

The inconvenience of holding wedding ceremonies in the street varies from annoyance to blocking side streets for passing cars. A loudspeaker in the living area – placed next to the ceremony tent, which often is set up in the middle of the street – is another source of nuisance. Wedding guests are received inside this tent where they chew qat, listen to songs and enjoy watching distinctive traditional dances.

Most bridegrooms who hold their wedding ceremonies in the street complain of confusion and indiscipline they suffer. They receive both those they know and others they don't, as many intruders and unemployed come to the ceremony tent without being invited. They often do not know the bridegroom nor does he know them. The bridegroom loses focus and cannot sit with his guests and enjoy talking with them, as he obsesses that an accident may happen. Residents near wedding site often complain about the loudspeaker sounds and the fact that others cannot reach their homes by car.

There are many accounts and much talk of holding wedding ceremonies in the street and although all admit it is a negative phenomenon, the fact remains that citizens resort to it due to the expense of holding them in halls.

Each one holding a ceremony in the street and those opposing it have their justifications. While economics control their behavior, their enjoyment remains incomplete.