Wedding traditions in Iraq
The sab’a as we call it comes after the marriage in seven days (now some of them makes it after ten or 14 days according to their honey moon but it is supposed to be made in the seventh day after marriage). In Mosul they make the party in the fourth day after marriage. This is usually held in the groom parent's house and the guest are from women only; the invited women should bring gifts for the new couple. Only the bride attend this party while her husband usually awaits in another room of his family house waiting for everyone to leave the house. The bride usually wears a party dress and some time more than one, or she may enter the room with her white dress and then change it after a while. The guests starts to dance and celebrate the new marriage.
Most of our marriages are arranged in the traditional way (i.e., not after a love story). When a man sees a woman and he likes her form the first sight he tells his mother about her and his family starts to ask about her family and start to work like a detective and if they match with the groom family socially and economically and in other things they agree about her. His mother goes to the bride house and asks for her hand on his behalf from her mother and gives her all the information about her son and the family, so the bride family will start to do the same thing that the groom's has done but this time, in opposite direction. And if they agree they call the groom's house and ask the groom to come with his mother. Some families let the bride sit with the future groom alone and let them get introduced to each other and talk alone about themselves, if they both agree about each other they will go to the next step and if one of them did not like the other very much they will separate. Also many still prefer the marriage between relatives, like cousins especially in small towns and villages.
The traditions I'm talking about are in the cities not villages. The first thing to do after the initial agreement is called ‘Mashaiya’ in which the groom's family bring the older person in their family with a number of relatives and friends all just men and go to the Bride father who also brings all his relatives and friends all men and sit together to get introduced to each other and in this party the older person in the groom's side make a speech asking for the bride’s hand from her father, the father makes another speech saying yes, then juice and deserts are serviced at once and after they finish, everybody leaves home. This party is very short and almost lasts for an hour only.
Then comes the engagement party, in which the bride and the groom exchanged rings, he buys the bride a ring and she buys his ring, the party engagement party is made by the bride’s family, and usually is attended by close relatives only from both sides, some times if the house is too small only women attend the party beside the groom of course.
There is a limit in the relation between the man and woman in their engagement period (I don't want to go so far with thisJ)
So there is another step and this is (tying the nut) this is the exact translation to the Iraqis language where the couple become legally married in court but they still don’t get to live together. In this contract the man usually writes her some kind of money or gold which she will take if he divorce her or he dies. This is usually done in court and some families bring the judge to the house of the bride where more traditional ceremonies can take place. For Sunnis the bride wear a white dress or Jallabyia, a tradition Arabic cloth, and in front of her they put seven cups, containing different kinds of white things like sugar, yoghurt, cream, (I don't remember the others!) and honey. Also they put the holy Quran and a mirror. (Don't ask me why because I don't know) but I think it’s traditions only and the people like to make it. Usually the judge asks the bride personally if she agrees to marry this man by saying a long traditional speech and he repeats it for three times (I don't know why) and then the bride says Yes. And then return to the groom but he asks him only once! When the judge asked me if I agreed to marry my husband no body told me I should wait before answering yes, so after he asked me the first time I said yes, then he started to repeat it again and again after he finished I did not answer him because I thought he will talk again.:)
For shias : those details I'm going to give you is from what I saw when I was invited to some parties: the bride wears a white nightgown and they also put in front of her the seven whites besides a big plate with different kind of spices decorated in a very nice way, and they bring a shia's cleric instead of the judge and while he asks her, two women stand holding a piece of white cloth above her head and a third woman start to sprinkle white sugar above her head to that piece of cloth, her feet are put in water with some dried flowers in it. In the party I attended, the cleric asked the bride 40 times before she said yes, but as they told me some repeated about 15 times.
Then after tying the nut, comes the ‘Nishan’ which is another party held by the bride family either in their house or a hotel if the house is very small. In this party the groom's family gives the bride jewelry from gold or diamond depending on their wealth and the groom starts to put it on her, while every one dance and sing.
Before the wedding day in one night there is also a small party held in the house of the bride and the groom as well separately, he invites his friends (like the bachelor party but with no stripper! Some of the men might bring traditional dancers.) and she invites her friends. After all both parties have ‘Hinna’ to be put on the guests hands.
After that comes the wedding party. Some they don't have a party just Zaffa as we call it, in which the groom's family goes to the bride family bringing with them a music band and start to dance for a bit and then the new couple go to their home or hotel. Some have a big party.
There are many other traditions before the wedding and after it I shall put in other post because this became a very long boring post. Of course these traditions may differ a little bit according to the social and economical levels and according to beliefs as well but this is the basic thing. Some of the families started to shrink those parties into two or three depending on the security and economical conditions as well. wait for my next post.