The Big Pharaoh
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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Weddings in Egypt

Weddings are very important social events in Egypt. It is considered a must to attend the wedding of someone you know in order to show your respect by sharing his/her happy moment. The Arabic for wedding is "farah" which means happiness.

The weddings of the rich: Most rich Egyptians have their weddings in a 5 stars hotel. Muslims usually plan their wedding parties (reception) after they register their marriage with a special cleric. Christian wedding parties tend to always be right after the marriage mass.

Rich Egyptians are keen to organize the best party ever for their sons or daughters. Many consider such parties as a way to show how rich they are. Sometimes a famous singer and belly dancer would be brought to entertain the guests. Some western oriented Egyptians do not like the idea of the traditional belly dancer and so they settle with a well known DJ. Prominent Egyptians make sure to invite as many government officials and other celebrities as possible. I once attended a wedding where I saw over 20 celebrities ranging from the president of the people's parliament to one of Egypt's top actresses.

The weddings of the poor: I consider those to be more fun. They are very simple with no formalities at all. People are not there to show off; they just want to share the happy day with the couple. The poor usually have their weddings right on the streets, in an alley, or a cheap social club. You don't have to be invited to attend the party; anyone can come and share the moment.

An amazing thing I recently discovered is the presence of beer and cheap alcoholic beverages in some of those weddings. A friend of mine who works in a beer company told me that he went to a wedding in a very poor district of Cairo and saw the people drinking beer and rolling marijuana joints! A police officer and his 2 soldiers were sitting beside my friend doing the same thing! (I'm wondering how much they got from the bridegroom to stay silent) It was a hilarious experience.

Poor Egyptians cannot afford to bring famous singers or belly dancers. They either get a cheap DJ or a third class singer. A number of Egypt's top mainstream singers shot it to stardom from those poor weddings. Also, they don't need to get a belly dancer since most of the girls at the party can do a much better job and for free.

Islamic weddings: Some very conservative Egyptians have what we call an "Islamic wedding". No music, no alcohol, women separated from men, etc. Religious songs and prayers are usually the only entertainment available.

Other conservatives are not that strict, they can still allow music and mingling between sexes but definitely no alcohol.


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