Friday, August 06, 2004

Our Village Wedding

MohAbdouWedding, originally uploaded by Miloflamingo.
The Oweyan tribe (and lord knows if I spelled that correctly in English script) were Bedouins who settled here around Abu Sir, in certain parts of the Delta near Alexandria, and near Hammam on the north coast a hundred years ago or so...relative newcomers in Egyptian terms. Haj Abdou Rashid, the father of the groom in our neighbourhood wedding, is the head of the clan in the Abu Sir area, sort of a capo da capo. He's a charming man in his 60's, I guess with sparkling blue eyes, fair skin from a Turkish ancestor, and white hair. If you put him into a three piece suit, he'd be at home in any board room, but the family businesses are construction, farming and mining for gravel, sand and stone for building.

If you want to buy land, lease a house, or build anything around here, Haj Abdou Rashid and his brother Haj Shaban are the men to talk to. (The "Haj" part of their names indicates that they have both made the pilgramage to Mecca.) Being a single woman, albeit as old as almost anyone's mother, it's very handy for me to be identified in the area as being under the Oweyan family protection. The two brothers and their children occupy a large house with about 6 apartments and a huge courtyard on the main road a few hundred meters north of me. When there is a family dispute, a problem over land, any kind of local issue at stake, the courtyard fills with the local folk so that Haj Abdou can hear the dispute and solve the problem.

Last week Haj Abdou's last child was married in festivities that lasted a full week. Last Thursday was the Katib el Kitab, the signing of the book, which is the formal portion of a Muslim wedding. This involved most of the closest family members (like out to second cousins) coming to the family house to pay their respects and to inspect the apartment that the newlyweds will move into. Throughout the week, Haj Abdou prepared a couple of recently harvested fields near the mosque that adjoins his house for the wedding party last night. The fields were bullozed to smooth them and a number of dump trucks of desert sand were poured over them to provide the area for the guests. The perimeter was fenced with appliqued tenting that is used for every occasion here. Special companies come to set it up for you the day of the party/funeral/whatever.

Wednesday night a generator and an air compressor were on hand to light the long strings of coloured light bulbs that decorated the family house, hung from the minaret of the mosque to the party area, and formed a tent shape over the seating for the guests. The air compressor pumped air into inflatable gates that were decorated with, of all things, snowmen. I can't imagine where they found that!

A stage was built of scaffolding at the far end of the sanded area for the entertainment last night. Chairs were placed randomly before the stage for people who wanted to watch the entertainment, and then in circles further back for the discussion groups. The scene in the picture is the video cameraman shooting the evening while the singer has the bride singing along for the groom. Imagine doing karaoke at your own wedding!

I missed the beginning of the party as I was supervising the installation of an air conditioner in my guest room. I heard the rhythmic honking as the cavalcade of cars approached the tents, and then my dogs went ballistic as there was the obvious reports of automatic weapons fire. Guns are not legal in Egypt, and other than seeing armed police and army around everywhere, you really don't often run into them. I'm sure that the machine guns being shot off last night are not okay, but the officials just leave them with the familiies for ceremonial purposes. I've never seen anyone with a gun.

Most of the excitement was over when I arrived at about 11 pm, but the power just went off in my house so it will have wait for a while.


Ashley said...

That sounds so magical! What did your daughter's friend from NY think about it all? What an experience to witness that while on a vacation!

Sar-bear said...

That sounds amazing...The picture is beautiful! So much color involved! Thanks for the update:)

Badonkablogger said...

Very beautiful. Almost as though it's something out of a movie. Even badonkablogger has a soft side.

M said...

Thank you for taking me back. I happened upon your page by accident, and am delighted! I have lived and Egypt and will be returning in October with my family. I will look for your other postings.

Rigged said...

Sounds like a beautiful and amazing place. I hope to go there sometime.