Exposed femininity at a Palestinian wedding

Exposed femininity at a Palestinian wedding

By Riia Marette Mäkilä

I certainly didn’t imagine they would have me dancing until my feet were sore!

I was spending the weekend at my Palestinian friend’s family house in Nablus when I got invited to his sister’s wedding. I felt very excited as I had heard about Palestinian weddings from friends but had never been to one before. I was imagining gender segregation, dancing and a dinner with Mansaf, which is a traditional Arabic dish with rice, lamb and a sauce of fermented dried yoghurt. Afterwards, I realized that I had no idea how incredibly beautiful and different in comparison to weddings I’ve been to in Europe the wedding was going to unfold.

The bride arrives in a very massive and beautiful white dress – like a queen! She has her head covered and her brothers escort her to the house. So much music and drumming! (Video by the blogger):


Palestinian weddings involve several customs and traditions. I feel curious as I walk to the family house of the bride where the wedding party starts. All the neighbours have come to celebrate the newlywed couple. Male friends and relatives are waiting outside of the family house, and they guide me inside where the women are waiting

Suddenly, women start walking towards the door and I hear a very loud drumming and a unique lu-lu-lu sound, traditionally heard at parties and weddings. The bride arrives and is escorted to the other women by her brothers and father. After a short while, the wedding party moves further to the village Kafr al-Dik. Traditionally, the bride moves to live together with the groom’s family after the wedding.

There are many different traditions regarding dancing. For instance, at one point the bride and groom make a traditional dance with swords. (Photo by the blogger)

Picture + text for the picture There are many different traditions regarding dancing. For instance, at one point the bride and groom make a traditional dance with swords. (Photo by the blogger)

The bride enters the reception hall with the groom. They dance to a couple of songs – she looks beautiful in her massive white dress. After a short time, the groom leaves the room and women can now take off their hijabs and jackets. At the wedding I went to, only the bride was present when the women celebrated uncovered. When the close male relatives of the bride arrive, they flock to the dance floor and dance in a more raucous manner. During this time, the women are covered and don’t dance among the men, with an exception of the bride and her mother.

The separated aspect of the wedding, where the women can wear more revealing clothing and show their hair, allows for a more intimate atmosphere. They celebrate the newlywed couple in a different way when they can expose their femininity as a group and surround the bride with a warm and close celebratory energy. The room filled with children and uncovered women is perhaps indicative of the future home life of the new couple – inviting good omens for a large and healthy family in the future.

At the end of the wedding party, the bride’s brothers and father enter the hall and give money and jewellery to the bride. The role of father and provider is exemplified here in a positive light, where the man supplies money and celebration ensues.

We had a nice barbeque dinner after the wedding party at the groom’s family house, where close family members of the bride and groom were invited. Despite the dinner, there was no food at the wedding apart from sweets and water and juice on the tables. The music kept the bride and, female friends and her family on the dance floor!

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