Friday, June 28, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 8: On Moroccan Weddings!

So, the Moroccan wedding I attended last weekend . . .

Ben Smim! Beautiful, no?
The wedding took place in Ben Smim, a very, very poor village near Ifrane. (As you'll read below, Moroccan weddings traditionally begin around 9pm and end around 7am.) We visited a few houses there because they were all relatives of our host family, and we had to drink tea and eat paraatas (which Moroccans call "Milwi") in each of the houses! The houses were small, closed, no windows, tiny bathrooms and kitchens. I didn’t see any of the bedrooms, but there were curtains (no doors) to rooms and I imagined they were bedrooms. I felt like I could survive in them, since I’ve seen a LOT of poverty as a Pashtun from Swat; I lived in a neighborhood with a disturbing contrast between the poor and rich in Swat, with some of my neighbors having tiny houses with a tiny courtyard and no bedrooms but only some place with a roof, while others lived in ... well, let’s just say a little more luxuriously.

Ben Smim

The night before this pic was taken, this is where the crowd had gathered for the groom on the horse.
The house we went to first is at the left here, right ahead.

This one

We were extremely tired, so the host family took us to one of their cousin’s houses (built the older way) so we could rest. I tried to get some pics of the room for the blog, but I couldn’t due to the lack of lighting. The roof had a hole that serves as a window for that room.  My roommate took some pics (the following three) that I'm gonna show so y'all get what I mean.

When you first enter the house, to your is the bathroom.
Right next to the bathroom was the kitchen - this is all of it.

The room that my roommate and I stayed in to get some rest when we got to the home.
So then ...

Around 7pm, some of the girls started getting ready and girls from neighboring houses came to the one we were in, all dressed up and ready for the party to begin. Host mother H. asked us if we wanted to go with them to something (I forget its name now but will ask H. later) that’s basically when the bride’s side shows off all the gifts they got the groom’s side. We have something like this in the Pashtun culture, too, but it takes place on the second day of the wedding before the girl’s side leaves the party.

We said sure but not sure how we somehow didn’t end up going. Most family members just stayed back.

The girls wore a separate dress for that specific occasion than they did for the wedding party. A traditional Moroccan dress for parties, weddings, etc. looks like this (note the belt):
This is from Google Images
Host mother H. gave me and my roommate her traditional Moroccan dresses to wear for the party. They were big on us but very beautiful! Plus, you couldn’t tell too much that they weren’t our size (except for the length, el oh el) because Moroccan women wear this belt around their dresses. To the side is a Google Image of a traditional Moroccan dress.

So. Around 9pm, we all in our ordinary clothes went outside for a very exciting occasion: to see the groom on the horse, wearing a masque (the groom was), with the whole village around him, with some awesome music and lots of singing and yelling. The horse had a guide who would go up and down the street with the groom on the horse and the crowd following. Eventually, they all went somewhere and H., some of her friends, my roommate, and I decided to stay behind and sit in the cool breeze. The weather was beautiful.

The groom on his horse
The groom with the crowd around him.
Here's a video or two of this moment (note what the women are chanting/singing in the first video. Little Host Sister N. does that so cutely! I'll upload a video of her doing that some day soon, too.)

When the groom was returned to the original destination (which was near where the ceremony took place), we headed back home to get ready for the ceremony. You know, girls and women being girls and women, having fun getting ready and all.

The stuff served at the entrance of the wedding hall
So the wedding party started around 10pm--and ended at 7am. How did the guests manage to stay up all night long? Well, there was a great live band playing music the whole time (non-stop, with perhaps an hour total for a break to eat and stuff), and LOTS of dancing. Unlike our South Asian weddings where you've to beg girls to get up and dance, in these ones, there's no specific way you've to dance; you just get up and enjoy yourself and move your arms and body here and there, and it's a whole lot of fun.

As for the bride, she (traditionally) changes her wedding dress two to four times during the ceremony. Our one started with a white, continued with a read, then a blue, then the white one again. I think she ends with the first color she started off with as per tradition. So in these so many hours that we were there, this was something exciting to look forward to. The groom, however, changes his clothes twice, I think. Our one started off with a suit and continued/ended with a traditional Moroccan dress. The entire infinite hours, what do the bride/groom do? They just sit there, have photos taken of them and smile, and ... well, that was all they did. At least they were sitting together, unlike many weddings I've been to where the bride and groom are separated from each other (most Muslim weddings I attend are gender-segregated, so the bride is on the females' side, the groom on the males').

As I mentioned earlier, Ben Smim was a very poor area. So how did the wedding come to be so rich? I'm not entirely sure, but from conversations with Arab and other friends, I have a theory - that I'll discuss in another blog post on weddings in general and the pressure to make them as lavish as possible, no matter how poor or rich the bride/groom might be.

Some pics.

The folks in purple and white are two of the band members. The seating is where the bride/groom sit at first.
The stage for bride and groom

The bride and groom are about to enter ... the singers are singing something just for brides now.
Dan dan danaaaaa - Bride and Groom enter.

"Smiiiile at the camera," they get told.

Video of when the bride & groom are entering

As for the food ...

That's all, folks! 
P.S. Oh my God - I'm done with this post at last! This took forever to write!! You're all welcome.

Previous Morocco Journals:


  1. Another great post.. Dera manena, i am going to Morocco in two weeks.. goram ba chi sta post somra reshtia dai ;)

  2. Thanks for your comment, Samie!
    You'll love Morocco, I'm sure of it! Best wishes!


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