Marriage in Palestine
Generally, marriage in Palestine is divided into two types : the traditional and the marriage of the bourgeoisie, (the ” modern“) – they both have different types of access road to the bride of the young mans dreams, but the rest of the details are similar. In traditional type of marriage, the mother of the groom and a sister, will search for the appropriate women, among acquaintances or relatives, or travel to different regions in search of a suitable women. When they find the appropriate women – as requested by the groom himself, he goes with them to the woman’s parents, her home , to confirm his acceptance after a look at the wife to be.
This very first look at the woman considered as legitimate, recognized and approved. If the woman is not suitable for him, from the point of his view, the mother and sister will keep searching for another women, to be the partner of his married life. Until he fined the chosen one, the women’s role ends here, and the men’s role comes in. Hence both traditional and modern marriage have common details. In the modern marriage the young man knew a women before, and there is no need to involve the family, to make decisions and to seek for a suitable bride.
Only the young man asks his mother and sister to go with a question, if the woman’s family would accept to their marriage or not. Upon acceptance the men from each family will together hold a meeting, called (dowry determining), where both parts will evaluate the wedding costs, and all demands requested for the bride, to agree to this marriage. Of course after they have asked around about the husband to be, and accepted his manners, ideas and tendencies.
The Dowry Meeting
The groom’s family starts the conversation asking questions in a polite way, about the acceptable dowry. They will convince on its value for their bride, a habitual, determined by Jordanian Dinars currency (1JD=1.3$) -the amount is roughly between 2.000 to 4.000 JD ( approx 7.000 used ) – less or more. The dowry is determinded according to the traditions and the customs of the family itself, the age and level of education of the girl and other related issues, the answers are spoken in gentle way too.
Sheik saying a speech in this occasion
The dowry meeting
This important meeting may continues for an hour or two, until both families reach a mutually convenient, the dowry paid by the groom will be used to purchase all the clothes for the wedding, her jewelry and personal things, while the groom had fully equipped their home before, including furniture, bedroom and its contents, which costs up to another 2.000 JD, written in the marriage contract for the bride, in addition to another amount payable only when and if the husband divorced his wife, so the total after dowry will be determined and meeting its dowry and the preparations of their home can begin.
Generally, dowry is considered the be of the largest anxiety to the young men, especially when he works for continuous years and he still may not be capable after all, to finalize the building of a home and pay the amount of the dowry agreed upon, the reason is the low level of income and high unemployment in the occupied Palestine. Because of the high cost of living, and the high rates of basic requirements to live, many of the employees turn to the banks for a loan, while others incur debts from relatives and friends. Also many of them strive to buy , home – furniture, electric appliances and installments ways, spending their best years of youth in a constant concern for continued payment of these premiums. – Accumulated for years, many of them force or compel to sell their wives’ jewelry in the first months of marriage to repay all the debts.
Dowry and home furnishing costs are no longer ultimately, after approval and acceptance of the marriage officially, it is time to celebrate. The groom invites all his friends and the youth from both families and also their friends to celebrate with him. On the occasion of the wedding a youth concert called Zaffa, will be held, which requires the rental of a music ensemble, or a music band, a voice mixer, a stereo, head- phones to every one, and a large number of chairs for all the family members. Sometimes a wedding hall will be rented to throw a banquet. the very next day, in which the two families are gathering to get to know each other and to strengthen their bonds.
A music band
A music band
A youth concert called Zaffa
A youth dancing called Dabkah
Dancing and clapping
After all this arrangements, it is OK for the bride- groom to see and talk freely with his wife, now the two has becomes one, though he has to wait to take her to their new home. As long as the arrangements around the wedding is not complete. The wedding might be have been delayed, sometimes because the bride is not ready yet, she did not buy all the necessities, or the reason can be that the groom failed to pay the dowry, which will make it difficult for him. Now he will spend the time in a critical psychological state, his wife to be, is standing in front of him and he cannot approach her more. He can not stay alone with her, or spend time with her, without the presence of another person. Every time he pay a visit to her, the family members will stay around them.
The bridegroom’s signature
The bride’s signature
Maybe he can enjoy a few moments with her alone. This period considered to be the most important for both spouses, to examine each other, and get to know the true nature of each others. The longing to be with each other reaches its ultimate peak, after each meeting, the two is using all the possibilities to communicate with each others, across all available channels – they write letters to each others, they call each other on mobile-phones, they send to each others e-mail, and they find ways to send messages through friends, to each others. Therefore, he must strive to provide the amount of dowry agreed upon as soon as possible, to take his wife home, to terminate the engagement at its best.
The Wedding day
The wedding day is one of the most complex and busiest days of both the spouses; their schedule tends to be fraught since the first hour of dawn. In the morning he must take her, her sisters and her chosen female friends from relatives, to a women beauty & hair salon and he must pay the costs for them all. While he goes to the hairdresser for himself and his best friends, he leaves to confirm the date of the arrival of cars (10 to 20 limosines) that will take all the members of both families to the specified wedding hall.
Of course, he must pay the rent for the cars in advance; often the groom chooses the day of his wedding, to be the same day of the announcement, which will take place in the same hall. Wedding invitation cards (500 to 1.500 cards) must be distributed a head of time, to his family, members of her family, friends and acquaintances – the wedding ceremony will be held a specified time and date and often after the prayer time at 5:00pm.
Lunch for the bride and bridegroom members and the guests in public
Lunch for the bride and bridegroom members and the guests
When the bride finishes her makeup procedures, at the beauty salon, her husband to be, drives her to the closest photo studio, to capture the moment together for reminiscence, then he leads her back to her home, where her relatives and friends celebrate her wedding. The groom then finalizing the declaration process in the hall together with the men, of both families. As soon as he is finished, the groom takes the waiting cars towards the brides home, while he brings them all on a tour around the city.
The family members and friends begin to arrive to the wedding hall, where the celebration for the spouses starts from the beginning of the evening until midnight. Young and old will dance together the Palestinian folklore dance Debka,) singing and taking photos of the just married, blessing them and wishing them a happy marriage life .
- Transportation to drive women to the wedding hall
- Transportation to drive women to the wedding hall
Incidentally, the wedding halls is a great opportunity for a mother of a single son, to search for a suitable women. So each girl (women) that is invited to be a guest of a wedding, one of the objectives , is to expose her specifications in front of the mothers, who is looking for a traditional Palestinian marriage for their sons.
The wedding car is waiting
The wedding car arrived the hall
The wedding car
The Honey – moon
After all this marriage arrangements, the spouses enjoy a good month of honeymoon. It is a tradition that parents in Palestine provide a comfortable required rest for the new marriage couple. Everything possible is arranged to facilitate their life from now on, all close relatives of the two families, arrives with their gifts to help the new wedded couple to fulfill their dream. So the gifts will complete the new home, any lack of their basic needs or luxury, all gifts will be given after that the two have passed the test of ability to get married. He must provide all of the above requirements and need to prove that he is honorable to receive all the gifts.
He, the groom, must equip the house, pay the dowry, invite to the youth ceremony, pay for the wedding day & the banquet for both families, including all other expenses, to prove that he highly appreciate his the women that is now his wife, even if he is forced to borrow the money. – “There one who proposes to a beauty does not care about the dowry” – which means that he may sells his own soul, to provide the dowry for her, to express his high appreciation and his warm feelings towards his future wife.
The High Costs
The high costs of the dowry, may cause the reluctance of many young people to get married – because their inability to pay all these money, in addition to take such a heavy responsibility at an early age. Especially with the deteriorating economic conditions and the high unemployment in Palestine, some families may not be granted to alienate or waiver the issue of dowry.
The issue of the dowry put social pressure on this family, their pride and also to her prestige. While the religion of Islam insists on woman’s right to take their dowries, the man did his best, he might felt tired forced to obtain her, sure he will value his wife later – and take the very best care of his queen.In Islam, men are thought to believe that women are expensive and valuable – and that she must be satisfied when he is approaching her, to ask her to marry him. In addition to her family’s satisfaction, this is to ensure that the Islamic religion reinforced the woman’s position and respecting her role in the society. Giving the woman the right to ask for her dowry, the wedding ceremony, and the approval of parents is a fundamental principal.
The queen in his kingdom does not accept any one of all the other males around her husband, only the one who will be able to catch her in this great marathon race. Except from the chosen one – all the rest will vanish. So therefore she must be the queen and her husband should be the chosen one.
- A couple’s bedroom
Khaled N. Safi
Gaza Strip Palestine