February 4, 2016

2261 BAHRAIN - A wedding procession of men


In Bahrain, the population is mostly Muslim (both Sunni and Shia), so country's culture is similar to that of its Arab neighbours in the Persian Gulf region, and the traditions related to the wedding aren't an exception. While it was traditional for girls to be married at twelve or thirteen years of age, they now tend to wait until they have finished their education and have a job. The forced marriages are against Islamic teachings, but however the arranged marriages are common, even today.

When it is time for a young man to get married, his family will look around to identify a number of potential brides. Are taken into consideration the girls' beauty, her behavior, her cleanliness, her education and finally her qualities as a housewife. The first meeting usually takes place between the bride, groom, and their mothers, in a public place or in the bride's house. It is nowadays common in urban families for a bride and the groom to agree to marry before the groom approaches the bride's family for their permission.

Before the bride is united with the groom, women perform jalwa, a ceremony that places the bride under God’s protection. The signing of the marriage contract is known as the milka and a party paid for by the groom follows. The night before the wedding, the bride will attend the henna party, where all her female family members and close friends gather to keep her company. Henna is a symbol of good luck, health and sensuality in the Arab world.

The wedding parties (‘urs) are huge, often with five or six hundred guests, and usually include a zaffa, or wedding march, a musical procession which announces that the marriage is about to begin. In general the groom’s father, uncles, relatives, neighbors and a drumming band accompany the groom and all sang during this parade. The zaffa is extremely loud, and the guests add to the noise by making trills of joy (ululations), called zaghareets.

Food is considered one of the factors that reflect the wealth of the families of the bride and groom. In a strict Muslim families, men may not dance with women or even watch women in unmodest dresses. So only the female guests and children enter the hall together with the wedding couple, and men wait outside. At the end of the party, women cover their shoulders, and men may enter the hall. After the guests have eaten, those who are not close family or friends will leave after congratulating the couple.

Bahraini men's traditional dress is the thobe, a loose, long-sleeved, ankle-length garment. On the head, they wear ghutra, a square scarf, made of cotton, usually red and white checked or all white, folded in a triangle and worn over the keffiyeh. The keffiyeh is a white knitted skull cap worn under the ghutra. The agal is a thick, double, black cord that is worn on the top of the ghutra to hold it in place. In some occasions, it adds over the thobe a bisht, which is a cloak made of wool, usually black, brown, or grey.

About the stamps
The first is a Charity stamp (?), and the second, depicting the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, is part of a definitive series, about which I wrote here. The last stamp is part of a series issued on February 18, 2001 to commemorate The 10th Anniversary of Beit Al Qur'an, a unique  Islamic International Institution.

References
Arrab wedding - Wikipedia
Marriage Customs in Bahrain Villages - Folk Culture
Music and Traditions of the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, by Lisa Urkevich
Culture of Bahrain - Wikipedia 

Sender: Edwin G. Saliendra (direct swap)
Sent from Manama (Bahrain), on 12.06.2014

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