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Tangier Wedding

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The ceremony of Moroccan wedding is one of the rituals which, strongly invested by the religious field, is also impregnated with a set of customs and habits drawn from the local tradition of each region.

In this respect, Tangier is characterized by very specific uses although it shares other customs with Fez and Tetouan.

Indeed, the engagement (lakhtiba) is solemnly announced once the groom has chosen his bride-to-be, during a ceremony in which the families of the bride and groom agree, in the absence of those concerned, on the date of the marriage certificate (Drib Sdak), as well as on the other nuptial provisions relating to the dowry and gifts.

It is customary for the family of the bride to draw up and celebrate the marriage certificate in a ceremony attended by two adouls (notaries), to which members and close friends of both families are invited, provided that the women stand separately from the men.

Gifts are occasionally offered by the groom's family to the bride-to-be in a festive atmosphere where the scent of incense vies for the limelight to the musical sounds of you-you.

Revêtue d’une tenue traditionnelle, la fiancée se pare, pour la circonstance, de ses plus beaux bijoux, à l’instar d’une mariée la nuit des noces (Dakhla ou Rouah), tandis que le fiancé s’habille en costume à l’Européenne ou en tenue traditionnelle de marié (djellaba blanche, babouches et tarbouche rouge).

The fiancé dressed in Djellaba and her relatives leave this ceremony after having fixed the date of the wedding celebration, usually for one year after the conclusion of the marriage act, in order to allow the bride to prepare her trousseau (Chouar), consisting of clothes, jewels, embroidery objects, crimped handkerchiefs, pillow covers, kitchen utensils and other small things that she will need during her married life

In accordance with the famous Moroccan adage according to which "one night wedding, one year reflection", this delay suits the groom just as well and allows him to equip the marital nest with basic materials.

Barely a month before the wedding ceremony, the two families begin to issue written or oral invitations to the guests, or through the arrada (a lady in charge of the invitations) and the two negafa who, with their expertise in the field of marital relations and their long experience in life, take care of accompanying, one the bride and the other the groom, during the wedding celebrations.

In exchange for her multiple services of prayers and you-you, the negafa is entitled, in addition to her salary, to large sums of money that she collects from the families of the bride and groom (Ghrama).

A week before the wedding night (Dakhla), the two families separately hold a small feast called Ajin lâajin (kneading the dough) which, because it is strictly for the intimate, is devoted to discussing the varieties of pastries that should be prepared, the presentation of the bride's cabbage and the gifts that the groom is supposed to offer his wife on the wedding night.

On the morning before the wedding night, the bride goes with her closest friends and relatives to the hammam (Kharjat Alhammam) with her negafa at the head of the procession.

In the evening, the bride, without a belt and all dressed in white, lets herself go to the care of the Hennaya assisted by the negafa, who embellish her feet and hands with henna during a ceremony called Nbita (Plant) or Leilat Alhanna (Henna Night).

The next day, the bride's family organizes a ceremony called Dohour Lâarousse (Appearance of the Bride), which consists in showing the guests the bride dressed in her most beautiful finery, resplendent in her pomp of jewels and necklaces (of takhlila and chadda) that the hairdresser (Machta) has endeavoured to arrange in a pure tradition that draws its roots from the Andalusian Islamic heritage.

During this ceremony, the hairdresser accompanies the bride closely in a series of processions that multiply as the number of ceremonies increases, called Tabrizat Lâarousse, an operation that consists of showing off the bride's charms before an exclusively female audience.

The ceremony continues, to the rhythm of a musical orchestra led by women alone, accompanied by glasses of tea and pastries prepared by the groom's family with exquisite refinement.

Most often, the wedding celebration is held on the day of the bride's appearance, if not the day after. The ceremony begins with the reading of Qur'anic verses and continues with samâe recitals and poems singing the praises of the Prophet Sidna Mohammed, before the reading of the fatiha.

Afterwards, there are the worldly festivities animated by various orchestras and folk groups, including kachafa, tabbala, neffarine and bardia.

The ceremony beats to the rhythm of musical sounds, which set the tone for the glasses of tea graciously offered with the various pastries, until the moment comes when the groom, dressed in a traditional costume that is nothing more than a gift offered by the bride, is led at the head of a procession of relatives and friends to join the festivities at his in-laws' home.

It is customary that, in this festive atmosphere where the joy of the wedding is inevitably tinged with a certain melancholy at the idea of the bride's departure, both spouses are gratified by the guests with many presents as assistance in equipping their marital nest.

After taking souvenir photos, the bride and groom climb into a litter box placed on the back of a mule (Hawdaj, âmmaria or bouja, in the terminology of northerners), decorated with shimmering embroidery, roses and jasmines. The procession majestically makes its way through alleyways and neighbourhoods, stopping in front of the main door of a mosque or a saint, before continuing its procession to the groom's house.

This practice is still in use both among the inhabitants of the old medina and in some suburban areas of Tangier, but the car has replaced the mule in other parts of the city where the metal procession is gaining ground.

The next day, relatives of the bride go to her new home carrying with them the ritual breakfast of soup, doughnuts and almond-based pastries, in a subtle way to reassure themselves about her condition and renew their congratulations to her and her husband.

It is also customary for the husband to offer his wife a gift of gold jewellery the next day as a token of gratitude for her chastity.

In the evening, another exclusively feminine ceremony, known as the Sbah or Sbouh, takes place, during which gold gifts, jewellery and clothes offered by the husband to his wife are presented.

While it is customary in some societies for newlyweds to continue to celebrate their wedding wedding anniversary as a couple during the thirty days following the marriage, commonly known as the honeymoon, the customs of the Tangérois do not allow this for more than a week.

On the seventh day, the curtain falls on a final, exclusively feminine ceremony called Lahzam (belt): a clever rhetorical turn of phrase to say that the seven ritual days have passed and that it is now time for the new bride to roll up her sleeves and tighten her belt.

From now on, only the homes of the families of the two newlyweds will remain open, for the next two weeks, to relatives and friends who could not attend the festivities for one reason or another.

It is also customary to offer additional glasses of tea and pastries on these so-called Hna (congratulations) visits in exchange for the gifts brought by the latecomers.

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