This past couple weeks I have been very privileged to be involved in wedding festivities for my friends Dina and Ahmed's wedding. Egyptian wedding traditions are blend of East meets West. The wedding process starts with the Katb-ael-Kitab. This is a legal ceremony. It takes place at a mosque, though not inside, and can be quite brief. This is done from a week to a month before the wedding, depending on the couple. Then closer the wedding the bride has a henna party. This is the Egyptian equivalent to a bachelorette party. This is meant for the girls only, all the women in the bride and groom's family are invited as well as the bride's female friends. A woman decorates the attendees' hands with henna while girls dance, sing, and gossip. This is one of those events that is supposed to be intimate. Women who normally cover themselves literally let their hair down. It felt great to be a part of this. (Meanwhile the boys attended a football match...)
One of the greatest traditions at the wedding itself (which is for the most part like a western-style reception) is called the Zeffa. The bride and groom enter and their guests stand around as a chorus of men beat drums, play flute-like instruments and chant in merriment. As a friend pointed out, it allows the bride and groom and the guests to pause and just be for a moment. Everyone looks at each other while the music rings out and smiles abound. I'm hoping that the Zeffa makes it across the Atlantic.