Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Occasions In a Q8ti Society

Occasions

Society in Kuwait is known for the strong ties between its members. Families, neighbors and friends maintain close relationships, and everyone is ready to share and celebrate special occasions with others. Each family celebrates according to its ability. Among these occasions are:

"Al-Noon” occasion, when a child has its first teeth or takes its first steps. Children of the family, relatives and neighbors are usually invited in the afternoon. The mother spreads a carpet in the courtyard of the house, and goes up to the housetop. Then, she throws candy and nuts down to the invitees from a basket. Children collect candy and nuts in their clothes. The mother presents "Al-Noon" dish to other mothers in the party give.

• “Daq Al-Harees” occasion, means grinding wheat. This occasion is celebrated while preparing for Ramadan. The family buys large amounts wheat, and then invites a group of women skilled in grinding wheat. They grind the wheat while performing, accompanied by women musicians.

Religious occasions, these holidays maintained its importance, and people reverently await them. Celebration of religious occasions differed today. On religious holidays, stores and institutions close their doors. Families and friends exchange visits.

"Al-Mawled Al-Nabawy" marks one of the important religious holidays, which is the celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday. During the day, spiritual atmosphere spreads and people sing chants of praise and read the Holly Qur'an. Clothes and money are given to the poor. The Lesser Bairam, which comes after Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, and the Greater Bairam, which comes on the tenth day of Dhul-Hejja, are important religious holidays. Some religious holidays, like Al-Mawled Al-Nabawy, Al-Israa Wa Al-Mearaj (the Night of Muhammad's Ascension) and the New Hejri Year are one celebrated for one day, whereas, celebrations of the Lesser Bairam is for three days and of the Greater Bairam is for four days.

Among the religious occasions celebrated in Kuwait is a celebration called “Al-Qarqiaan”. It is on the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth nights of Ramadan. As in the past, children wander through the neighborhood while singing and praying to Allah to protect the children of the houses they visit. The mothers present them candy and nuts.

Receiving the divers on their return, a party is prepared on the arrival of the divers after long period at the sea. All city men, women and children go to the beach and receive the divers in great celebration.

• Other holidays according to the Gregorian calendar include: New Year on January 01, National Day, celebrating Kuwait independence in 1961, on February 25, and Liberation day, celebrating Kuwait liberation from the oppressive Iraqi occupation, on February 26.

Citizens go on outdoor picnics in the deserts in the spring. They go to the seaside in the summer. Due to the change in Kuwaiti life manner, activities like pearl diving, fishing, business travel and shipbuilding disappeared. Accordingly, many celebrations, such as traditional songs, dances and activities disappeared.

Marriage

Families always treated marriage as an important occasion. Lots of money is usually spent on it. In the past, marriage was a means of strengthening bonds between families of similar social and financial levels and having similar creed. The family used to choose the partner, rather than the bride or the groom.

When it was difficult to find a partner from the relatives, a matchmaker handles this matter for the family. When the matchmaker found a suitable girl, she would inform the groom’s family. After the family of the groom agreed, the matchmaker would inform the bride's family. After the consent of both families, a date is arranged for meeting.

During the engagement period, the fiancée was not allowed to leave the house or meet anybody. The father of the groom would give his son's fiancée a sum of money to buy a wedding gift. This gift was called “Daza”. The "Daza" consisted of four valuable garments, two rolls of cloth, towels, bed covers and blankets. A band of women specialized in giving parties would carry the wedding gift to the fiancée's house on Monday or Thursday night. Under lantern light, the band would sing all the way from the fiancé's house to the fiancée's house. If the fiancée's father accepted the gift, this meant that he blessed the marriage. He would prepare the bride's trousseau.

On the wedding night, the groom would walk from his house to his wife’s accompanied by his father, uncles, relatives and neighbors. When he reached the bride’s house, songstresses would receive him.

A party called “Jalwa” was, sometimes, held for the bride in the house of her family. In the "Jalwa", the bride would be wearing a green garment and sitting on a special seat. A green silk scarf would be thrown over her. Some women of the family and musicians would hold the edges of the scarf, raising and lowering it, following the rhythm of a traditional song. Then, the bride would be carried on her seat to the room where the groom waits.

The first week for the newlyweds would be spent at the girl’s house. After this week, the couple would move to the house of the groom’s family in a procession with family and neighbors. The new wife’s mother would not be allowed to go with her daughter as it was considered a bad omen.

The change in the social relations in Kuwait was reflected in the way of choosing life partner. Relationships between men and women became to some extent more flexible. Young men now meet girls at family social occasions, university, work, clubs and other places.

As a result, a Kuwaiti girl can become engaged to a man from outside the family. A Kuwaiti man who is studying abroad may marry a foreigner. Moreover, higher education and job opportunities have led to delaying the regular age of marriage till twenty-three or twenty-four.

After choosing a partner, family approval must be attained. Then, formal traditions, which are a mixture of the old and the new, play a vital role. As in the past, the young man proposes to the girl by asking for her hand in marriage from her father or one of family elders if her father was dead. Afterwards, they would discuss financial matters such as the dowry. When all matters are settled, an engagement party is held in the girl’s house to celebrate the occasion.

The engagement period is not fixed; however, it usually lasts for one month. Wedding party is, usually, given in large public halls or in hotels. A party is given for just men to congratulate the groom and another separate party is given for women to sing and celebrate.

1 comment:

Patricia Sgrignuoli said...

It´s the first time I enter to your blog. It´s really interesting all you have said about the differents manners of life that there are in that part of the world. I´m from Buenos Aires (Argentina) and it´s a pleasure to visit this blog and learn with your posts.
Excuse me if my English is poor...