CLAPPING AND DANCING AROUND THE BRIDE AND GROOM
All I can say about my weekend is WOW! I have to tell you....ethnic weddings are just over the top....over the top with emotion....food...love...dancing....I was so exhausted today! (and I was just a guest!)
My friend Tavan got married this weekend. She is Kurdish, from the same region my mother's family is from...northern Iraq. Her fiance is also from that same region...as they met because their families know each other and of course encouraged them to get married.
I felt very comfortable at the wedding as the Kurdish traditions make me feel very much at home and proud of my roots. I remember at my wedding, I incorporated both Kurdish and American traditions (as my husband is American) and it was so nice to be able to celebrate both cultures. I also laughed to myself several times this weekend because the drama and emotion are so high with family and friends of different ethnic backgrounds. As soon as my mother and I got to the reception, the sister of the bride was crying, screaming, having a panic attack...and noone seemed to think it was a big deal (as we all think this behavior is quite normal!) And not to mention that the wedding was 2 1/2 hours late, which also is pretty "normal" in our culture.
We fight, yell, cry, laugh out loud, scream with joy, and on and on....I know some of my American friends thought this was strange behavior when I got married...but it is quite "normal" for us to be this dramatic...and in the end....all we know is that we love our family and we have a damn good time no matter what the drama or stress that led up to the celebration.
The best part of the night was the dancing and the food. I can't believe the difference between going to an American wedding and a Kurdish wedding. None of the food was served in fancy platters or with any garnish or silver tongs....instead...it was just good food....served right out of the pots from the stove. There were four different kinds of rice, plain white basmati rice, brown rice, saffron rice and a biryani (spiced rice with cloves and all-spice). There was "yaprakh" or better known as "dolmada" or "dolma" grape leaves and onions stuffed with rice, dill, garlic, onions and in this case, lamb. My plate was filled by the men in the family and when I walked away from the buffet line, I couldn't wait to dive in to that pile of goodness.
Can you see the yummy goodness....
Now to the dancing....it was just amazing to see the different traditional Kurdish dresses all in a line. It's custom to do the folk line dancing at weddings and it's similar to Greek line dancing. One dance can last 20 or more minutes! My legs and feet are still killing me! But seriously...look at these fabrics, the jewelry, the details, and of course...the hair and makeup!
The most amazing tradition at Kurdish weddings is what we call the "gifts of gold." This is the tradition where the groom adorns the bride with layers of top-notch gold...we're talking 18k and 22k or 24k gold. The bride picks out some of the pieces and of course the groom is also expected to surprise her with some really expensive pieces...the more gold the bride gets...obviously the more money the groom has and in turn impresses the bride's family and friends. After she is covered with gold from the groom, the guests then take turns lavishing her with more gifts of gold and cards with money in them, this is all expected on top of the regular gifts that guests bring to a wedding. Boy do they make out!!! Wow...I should've told all my guests about this tradition!!!!
Presentation of Gold to the Bride
Check out all the Gold
Brides hands with all her new gold rings and of course the henna for good luck
At the end of the night, the cake cutting ceremony begins with the knife dance. This is where the bride's sisters and best friends dance with the knives that will cut the cake...but before they hand over the knives, they dance and tease the groom with the knives to remind him that they can "handle" knives and that he better take care of their sister/friend. It is a fun tradition and at my wedding, my sisters and friends really played the part and the guests loved it!
I get all sappy when I go to weddings, this weekend even more than usualy because it not only made me think about how amazing love is...it also reminded me of my amazing Kurdish culture.
My mother and I in our Kurdish attire
The Knife Dance