Nubian Wedding Ceremonies

The wedding ceremonies and festivities connected with marriage were among the most important public events in the social life of Nubians. These activities and several different purposes in addition to uniting two families and cementing bonds between kin group already related through previous marriags.Among these purposes were the assurance of a happy and prosperous life for the bridal couple and the provision of happiness and entertainment for the village and district.  

 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 forms of 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 gash.
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 actors .
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.


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