05.26.2013 - 05.26.2013
What an event!
The Friendship Force group was honored to attend and have the opportunity to join in the festivities.
The wedding celebration is quite similar to how it is celebrated in Albania:
First there is a large engagement party
Second there is a celebration called the "Bride's Wedding - this is what we attended.
Third there is a celebration called the "Groom's Wedding." This is generally held the week following the Bride's Wedding. There is some kind of ritual where the groom arrives and takes the bride from her father's home.
There is NO religious ceremony or service. The information is provided to the imam so the marriage is registered in the mosque, but the bride and groom don't have to be present. The marriage must also be registered in some city office.
The wedding parties are generally held in a special hall, which generally caters to such events.
The music and singing are VERY loud. I thought the band was stupendous, but some local folks commented that the singers were not the best. It was all national music, but some other couples choose to have popular, European, or American music.
The quantity and number of courses at an Azerbaijan restaurant is astounding. It absolutely never stops. We are constantly reminded that folks from USA are among the most overweight, but I don't think anyone has thought to include Azerbaijanis into the data.
The place settings include about 4 plates and 3 glasses. When a female is seated, the waiter removes the stemmed shot glass for vodka, but leaves it for the men. Some of the Americans insisted on alcohol and one of the women at my table insisted on a vodka shot glass. I did as the locals did and drank water and tea.
Videographers constantly circle the room filming everyone and projecting it on 8 big screens around the hall. You get so accustomed to them that you ignore them and will probably be caught with a pickle in your mouth - or something worse.
The bride and groom can wear any color dress and suit at the engagement party and Bride's Wedding. She wore red and he wore blue. At the groom's wedding, she wears white and he wears either black or white.
The high point of the wedding party is the traditional dancing. The family starts the traditional dance. On the next songs, women in the family will continue to dance in one or more circles and the men watch and eat. Gradually, there will be circles for men and circles for women. Only occasionally, is a woman included in a circle of unknown men- except, of course, for a couple of USA women who charged themselves into circles and danced like they were at a 1980 disco. (Not me! I get so disgruntled when these crazy old American women have to show other nations "how women can really be.")
Eventually, the men begin dancing circles and compete with one another. I could not get very good photos, so go to You Tube and search for Azerbaijan Wedding Dance to get a better idea of the fun.
Before the wedding party, I visited a Baku salon with my host's daughter, Nurana.
My host Sevda was quite excited about the party.
Once there, she didn't seem to have much fun. I only got her to dance once. Her feet hurt from tight high heeled shoes.
Later that night at her apartment 8 of us women between the ages of 18 months to 68 years danced until almost 1 AM to traditional music. I guess she was more comfortable in her housecoat with familiar women friends.