Ancient traditions which still live on – Nubia weddings

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SHAFAQNA - Nubia is a region along the Nile River that is located in the southern Egypt, and the northern of Sudan, meanwhile this story is about the Egyptian Nubia.

The word “Nubia” has an origin in the ancient Egyptian language which means: the land of gold.

Nubians are such a unique sector of the Egyptian society. They’re like a whole world unto itself. They have their own language, territory and whole culture. They refer to themselves as “the Nubians” and to the non-Nubians as “the Egyptians” as if they are in a different country (and this mirrors the isolation of the Nubians from the rest of their country).

Nubians are indigenous people; they derive their serenity and tranquility from the magnificence of the nature around them. They are not just well known by their kindness, warmth and hospitability, but also by their fun-loving cheerful nature. All Nubians are good at singing and dancing, they celebrate their lives. And when it comes to marriage, they do all the celebration.

Marriage in Their Culture

In the Nubian culture, a girl has to get married to her cousin, or a relative, or at least a man from her village. But now, it’s enough for the groom to be Nubian. But, of course, some Nubians break this rule.

Nubians generally stick to marry Nubians basically because of the vast cultural differences between them and “the Egyptians”. For example, Nubians are extremely hospitable to the extent that they can host a Nubian guest they don’t know well and their family for up to a week or ten days. It is hard for non-Nubian spouses to understand this.

Also, Nubian husbands are known by their loyalty and gentleness, and Nubian wives are known by their obedience, they don’t want to get married to “Egyptians” with whom they may not find these traits.

Moreover, Nubians are sensitive because of their dark color, that’s why they prefer getting married to a Sudanese spouse to an “Egyptian” spouse, because they’re close in culture and skin color.

In the past, polygyny was part of their culture. Wives of the same man kept good relation and visit each other. But now men generally keep only one wife.

Customs and Traditions

The engagement party goes this way; all of the groom’s family in the afternoon goes in a procession, each carrying a flower or a sprig or anything green from a tree, heading to the bride’s home. At the same time the bride’s home prepares the Sherbet (traditional sweet drink) and the dessert for the guests. The neighbors gather and join the celebration by singing and dancing.

Dancing, like shown in the movies, takes the form of lines of girls opposite to lines of youth.

In Nubia, the bride’s family doesn’t argue over the bridal jewelry set offered by the groom to his fiancée like in the mainstream culture. They’re left up to the groom and his family. The Dowry is always L.E. 25, 15 of which are the nape of dowry.  The cost of the furniture is divided between both families like what’s generally done in the rest of Egypt. Families generally are not demanding, but rather tend to facilitate the marriage.

When contracting the marriage, a huge piece of cloth of 110cm wide and about 3-4m long is put on the village ground, all men of the village wearing white robes are gathered sitting on it. Biscuits are presented to the men, and wicker plates with popcorn, dates, and bonbon are put as centerpieces. Tea with milk is served to all men as well, then the dinner.

In the Henna night, a cow or buffalo is slaughtered early in the morning to feed the guests. Liver, beans and eggs are served in the breakfast. And then the women start preparing the lunch. After the lunch guests start singing and dancing, and then they drink the afternoon tea, and a woman with a copybook takes all the wedding guests’ financial presents and documents who paid how much.

And then a procession starts from the groom’s house heading to the bride’s house, in which they take the bride’s jewelry  and the gifts of the groom to his bride; 12 pieces of every item (i.e. 12 robes, 12 scarf, 12 perfumes…etc). Guests keep singing and celebrating, and showing the gifts to the people and at the end the groom puts the wedding ring in the bride’s hand.

The Wedding Night or the “Edei”: The wedding ceremony starts at midnight, and ends in the morning. In the next day, the mothers of the bride and groom visit them at noon & give them milk to drink; resembling a good start.

The bride and the groom must spend the first week in the house of the bride’s family, and her mother serves them, and hosts their guests.

The First Nubian Woman to Marry a Foreigner

She’s Mona Sherif, 42, who was raised with her family in Cairo and worked there.

Mona used to work as an Arabic teacher in the British Council to foreigners, and then shifted her career to work as a hostess.

 

Her husband is a blond American who lived in Egypt and loved Nubia so much. They have two kids, Nabra (a Nubian female name, means gold), and Shams El-Din. They used to live in Cairo until their kids joined universities in America.

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