I have been waiting in Cairo to attend a wedding. As my trip has been interrupted anyway there was no way I was going to miss such a memorable event.
1. The Marriage Contract
Ibn Battuta was married several times but he never describes the marriage ceremonies even thought he was married in different countries and presumably the rites differed a little from place to place. Summer is wedding season in Cairo and the contract-signing ceremony I attended which was held in a small side room of a Mosque, resembled our registry office wedding. Only a few people were invited and we all sat in front of a raised dias where the imam sat at a desk between the father of the bride and her brother on one side, and the groom and bride on the other. The bride wore palazzo pants and a tunic in white chiffon with blue trim and the groom wore a suit. She was not veiled and nor were most of the women guests. Dress code was everything from glamorous to smartly casual, long skirts to capri pants, suits to jeans and jackets. The imam said a few words followed by a short prayer then got down to the marriage contract. The groom and the bride’s father shook hands in front of the imam, the gesture was held and both hands were then covered by the imam with a white cloth. He put his hand on top of theirs then spoke the words of the marriage vows which both parties repeated in turn - the same as our marriage ceremony except the bride was represented by her father. Everyone at the desk, including the bride, then sealed the written contract with their signatures on the document. The whole ceremony which took about 20 minutes, is the official one and at its conclusion the bride and groom are married according to law. However in almost all instances, including this one, the bride and groom then go to their respective homes and the marriage is not consummated until the celebration party takes place. Not all weddings are like this; in some circumstances, dowries are still the order of the day....
Getting 'kitted out' for the evening's entertainment