For the first forty days after the wedding the
bride was not supposed to leave her quarters. the groom, however
,was expected to stay in the bridal quarters only during the
first seven days. During his period the couple ate their meals
alone in their room, served by the special attendants or woman .
When the bride went out of her quarters for the first time it
was customary for her to dress in her bridal gown and pay a
visit to her in-laws .The parents of the grooms were expected to
slaughter a sheep for the occasion and to invite the families in
the neighborhood for a mid-day meal.
Incense was burned throughout the wedding festivities. For
example, it was burned during the groom's processions, and a
smoking brazier was passed over the bride at least twice daily
to keep away evil spirit. Visiting the Nile was also important,
for purification and for keeping away spirits which could harm
the fertility of the bride or the virility of the groom.
Folk dancing and singing were the most important
entertainment in any Nubian communal festivity. The immediate
families of both the bride and groom were expected to take
leading role in the wedding dance, but organized singing and
dancing were led by musicians who were considered to be
specialists in that field. This entertainment usually lasted
from seven to fifteen days before the wedding ,and throughout
the week following it. All visitors, men, women and children,
were expected to take part in both singing and dancing .
Three prominent dances were performed during the wedding, and
there were a number of traditional songs .The musical
instruments used were the "Tar" and "Dakalaka" ."Zagharit",the
frequent piercing female joy cries lent an extra air of
excitement to the drumming and singing.
The three principal dances were the following :
Kumba gash. This group dance provided most of the entertainment
for wedding since it gave a chance for everyone to participate
and or each to take part as long as he or she wished. All
visitors, including men , women, young girls, and even children,
were expected to join the dancing for at least a short time
In the group dance the men formed several rows of ten or twelve,
and were faced by the women in similar rows. The front lines
were usually reserved for the close families of the bride and
groom while immediately behind these were the elderly women, who
usually wore much gold jewelry for the occasion. Marriageable
girls were allowed to dance only in the back rows where they
were farthest from the men.
Several musicians provided the rhythmic beat on their Tars .
They usually stood at one side facing the each the center area
where the male and female groups of dancers approached each
other. There was little movement in this dance, keeping to the
rhythm of songs and music, the lines of men and women with
locked arms swayed from side to side in unison, taking a few
steps forward. then a few steps back. Everyone joined in the the
singing. This dance was performed for several hours at a time,
with people joining and leaving the group to visit at various
points . A dance master generally danced between the front rows
to women and men holding a palm stick in his hand. His role was
to maintain order and control the general form of the dance.
Occasionally one of the elder women would be moved also to take
a stick and dance between the rows.
Ollin ( Mahas) or Kaff ( Arabic) Aragid. The capping dance.
While musicians provided background music on the Tambour ( a
string instrument) , a group of men stood in a semi-circle and
clapped rhythmically. One or two women, usually members of the
immediate family of the bride and groom, entered into clapping
semi-circle and dance in small steps. Later girls or other women
danced, moving around the circle to the rhythm of clapping,
swaying back and forth with their whole bodies in a suggestive
and seductive manner. Since so few people could participate, the
Ollin aragid generally did not last more than fifteen minutes.
This dance and its rhythmic clapping also required much more
special skill than the Kumba gash.
Firry aragid. The musicians and men stood lined up on one side
facing the women. who were again placed in long lines. The
elderly women of the immediate families of the marriage then
danced in the space between the two groups. The steps were
similar to those of the clapping dance. except that the dancers
followed a faster tempo .The Firry aragid, like the Ollin
aragid, provided diversionary from the main pattern of the Kumba
Some special Nubian songs for various parts of the wedding
ceremony , were as follows:1- the henna songs for both the bride
and groom, 2-a special song sung while the groom was getting
dressed for the wedding, and 3- a song sung during the
slaughtering of the cow ceremony. All these songs usually led by
elderly women who were answered in chorus by the other women,
and the consisted primarily of repeated chants of praise for the
families of the bride and groom.
For example . the henna songs for the bride contained several
elements which were improvised upon :1- the naming of the
ancestors of the girl, her tribe, her lineage and her family, 2-
praises of the bride herself i.e., statements that she was a
lady and that her mother had brought her up so well that nobody
had ever seen her in the streets before the wedding, with verses
stating that her parents had so spoiled her that she could ask
for anything and would served by slaves, 3- praises of her
parents , her father being said , for example, to have land , 4-
laudatory statements about all other family members,5-
reiteration of praises for the bride, who was promised that she
could walk on and enjoy all her father's land , 6- verses
praising the worthiness of the groom , and 7- verses stating
that because the bride's father wanted a good match for her , he
had inquired seriously about the groom before accepting him, had
consulted the Sheikh , the Omda , and all those who know him to
ascertain that he was worthy of the bride. Such songs of praise
were repeated until the henna application to the bride was
completed . A similar songs was intoned during the application
of henna to the groom , with praise geared to the groom and his
family. Other songs similarly praised the two families. The
group singing held before and during the wedding-day festivity
was centered mainly around the subject of " the love one "
Samara ( the dark one ), and was related to the general Nubian
life situation. All the songs had stereotyped themes , which
were embellished during performances and made specific to the
Wedding celebrations in Old Nuba usually lasted from fifteen to
thirty days and involved three main stages:
A- pre-wedding festivities and ceremonies
Firrgar ( betrothal ), the official negotiation before marriage
Adismar, which marks the beginning of the official wedding preparations
Tingodyendibi, the day of slaughtering the cow or sheep ( usually the day
before the wedding )
Koffare , the bride's and groom's festivity, centering around the henna
application on the night before the wedding .
B- Wedding day activities:
Balay, centered around the official wedding day .
C- Post-wedding :
Sabahiyya, the celebration on the morning following the wedding.
Barkid , a Nubian term for " blessing " or Tigar, meaning "
sitting ", both terms interchangeably referring to a festivity
taking place on the third day following the wedding.
Kolod. a Nubian term for " seventh " in weddings it marked the end of the
wedding festivity on the seventh day.