Thursday, April 28, 2011

Omani Weddings: Bedu Bridal in Wahiba, Al Sharqiyah

For Beduoin weddings, people have to understand that Oman has more than one kind of Beduoin, and Beduoin traditions, while are all very similiar, vary from the Coastal Beduoin from above Sur in Al Sharqiyah, to those of Al Wusta Region in the Interior [which MOP is more familiar with], to the sands of the Rub Al Khali in the South nigh Dhofar. I haven't been invited to any Al Wusta weddings yet, and when I was invited to the wedding celebrations, usually the melka/nikah had already taken place, and it was just for the Urs/Walima [the party] part. I am most familiar with the traditions of the Wahiba Urs because a Beduoin Engineer from this region once proposed to me and I knew his family well, but still couldn't fathom much of what was going on because of my poor Arabic skills. So please, feel free to fill in the blanks of this post. Bridal makeup (indeed, everyday wear as well for a Beduoin woman) includes traditional kohl. The women from Wahiba tended to mix it with fish oil, whereas women from the Interior, with goat fat.

The Urs celebrations take part with the men and women apart and outside seperated by an Areesh [date palm frond wall], with lots of singing and dancing on the women's side, and shooting of guns on the men's. Serriously, the men shoot off alot of rifles. I don't know what else they do on their side, I am assuming dance their traditional dances as well, but I could hear their rifles. Also, on both sides Qhawha (Omani coffee flavoured with saffron) is served, and we ate roasted baby camel meat served atop rice with dates and camel curd cheese for the wedding feast. I was jokingly served a peie of the head. I was not expected to eat it. Don't worry, the eyeball story is from the old days, and no one is insulted if their guest doesn't eat an eyeball or head anymore. But you do have to eat some of the meat. There is usually some goat on the side so if you couldn't fathom camel, ask for that.
Usually as a guest at a Beduoin wedding, the women will dress you up in their traditional clothes or Omani clothes, so that you can dance with them. They once taught my sister a dance that is done with Ghabah cloack and a green shawl. If you are married, they will give you a birqa (those gold or black masks) as Beduoin women traditionally wear the Birqa after their marriage to show their status in their tribe and to other Beduoin. Often the girls would give me a "Suri" from Sur, the traditional dress of Sur, rather than their traditional jalabiyias (long colourful dresses) and black ghabah (see-through cotten mesh thobe-cloak worn on top of the colourful dress) because I was a "city girl" lol. Also, as I was unmarried at the time, I was not given a birqa to wear, though I was handed one as a parting gift when I left their party. All the brides I ever saw, their dress was much the same as their guests, only their jalabiyia (colourful dress) might be worn without the black mesh cotton ghabah and have a little more embroidery on the cuffs of the sleeves. I never saw the bride wear a birqa. I was told the maher (bridal dowry) was pretty much always gold combined with livestock presented to the bride. And nowadays, since the government has given the Beduoin free housing, a house is decorated for the new couple (with Christmas decorations like tinsel garlands spelling out something of a blessing in Arabic), and a special new blanket is laid on the marriage bed for the new couple. I was informed that the morning after, the bride would emerge a woman in the tribal status, wearing a birqa like a married woman. So think of the Beduoin's birqa, like her wedding ring;D


Boxie said...

sounds nice mashallah

hijabi said...

I like these traditions a lot.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

boxie:inshaAllah you can see one.

hijabi: they're quite interesting.

Boxie said...

Inshallah :)