06 September 2008

Voici la Mariée

On Thursday I was walking through the hospital with two of the doctors. A man stopped us and handed us bubble gum. "What's this for?" I asked. "That's the father of the bride, and you've just been invited to the wedding this weekend." (The best part is that there are random facts inside the wrapper: "Where is the driest place in the world? The Arocama desert in Chile. It rains only a few times every 100 years." Hmmm . . . they've obviously never been Galmi!). This is the bride's father in the cobalt blue to the right.

By the time we arrived to the wedding (well after it was scheduled to start), the church was already full. But we managed to squeeze onto a bench that was under a fan. We were right in the middle of the room, so we were unable to see the bride, but hey, we were under a fan (at one point, the lights went out and the fans died for a few seconds . . . you can believe I've never prayed so hard in my life!! It was so hot in the church with the fans running . . . but once again, God showed me that He doesn't give more than we can handle!! The power came roaring back on and I wanted to stand up and shout "Hallelujah!").

The youth choirs from both of the evangelical churches in Galmi (they split about 10 years back as a result of two feuding families) joined together to sing at the wedding. They sang for a good half an hour. After they were done, a man got up with a microphone. He would speak and they would laugh or cheer. I leaned over to Auntie Cindy, "What is going on?" "Oh, he's the Games Master." That's right! In the middle of the wedding, they played a trivia game and even handed out prizes!!! I didn't get a prize. I don't know enough Hausa. But if that's not motivation to learn!

Then the two women's choirs had a sing-off. All throughout the ceremony, as different groups were singing, people would get up and put money on the foreheads of those singing (the sweat on their brow would keep the bills up for a second, before they would flutter to the ground). The money was all for the bride & groom. The better your singing, the more people got up to give.

The women were decked out!! So many beautiful colors and, of course, very loud patterns! But, shockingly, many women went without headscarves. I wish I had! Auntie Cindy dressed me up again, and the wrap on my had was so heavy it kept falling against the back of my neck . . . it was so thick it trapped all of my body heat! I think we should export them to Siberia!! Hmmm.

The groom's family (left) dances in first, and once they are all seated, the bride and her family come in as well. Traditionally, neither of them is to smile . . . as that would indicate to the elders in the church that they have already had sex . . . I wonder what they think about western weddings.

The entire ceremony lasted about 3 hours . . . the pastor preached on Ephesians 5: "Wives submit to your husbands." (he did manage to leave out "husbands, love your wives") I'm told this is the typical wedding sermon. The men (who sat either at the very front of the church, or on the left side) seemed to be the only ones enjoying the sermon.

Despite the heat, it was a great cultural experience! They did have a reception, but we didn't go. It would have been like last night: men on one side, women on the other, sit, eat, leave. There will be plenty of wedding receptions when I come back here for good.
This shot of the bride (left) was the only one I could get of her. She wore a western style dress with lacy sleeves that covered her upper arms nicely. This is a different dress than usual. About a year ago one of the missionaries picked up a dress at a thrift store in the States, and it apparently has gotten quite a bit of use as it has been passed around from bride to bride.
The couple exchanged vows, very similar to western ones: "in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer." But they didn't kiss. They shook hands. Word on the street is that there have been a few kisses at Christian weddings recently, but not everyone approves. Sannu-sannu (slowly-slowly).

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