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Friday, November 19, 2010

A foreign celebration

In May 2009, I attended the wedding of the sister of one of my best friends. In addition to baby Joãquim's funeral in Mozambique (May 2010,) the wedding was the most intercultural experience that I have ever had. I loved it! I can't wait for my next khmer wedding. =) I wonder if my sisters will be willing to wear THIS in my wedding.

Cambodian weddings are long and intricate affairs that consist of multiple ceremonies. It is a grand affair, full of color and festivity, as well as steeped in tradition. Musicians play throughout the day on traditional instruments, and the couple is dressed like royalty. The bridal party may change their outfits and hair several times in one day; and if the wedding were a weeklong affair, a color of dress would be established each day and the guests would be expected to dress only in that color. It can last from as short as one morning to as long as three days and nights, depending on the financial situation and social status of the bride and groom’s families. The wedding I attended was only a one-day affair, but it was an entire day as we were fed 3 meals.

Nary and Srey Leak were so kind to help me try on traditional khmer dresses. Every woman will wear a similar dress to Khmer weddings. Also, woman always change between morning and evening ceremonies [to fancy things up,] but I found only 1 dress, so I remained in this lavender dress.

Here you see Tess and I participating in the traditional hair cutting ceremony. To prepare the bride and groom for their life as a married couple, their hair is symbolically cut, representing a fresh start to their new relationship together as husband and wife. The parents, relatives, and friends take turns to symbolically cut the bride and groom's hair and give blessings and well-wishes.

Now Tess and I have had our hair and makeup professionally done at the neighbors house! I wish I had gotten pictures of this process! The bride's family hired an entire beauty salon to set up shop in the neighbor's home, and every [female] guest is traditionally expected to be professionally done up quite extravagently. I got a lot of attention for being the only "whitey" at the wedding, especially while getting my make-up done.

Srey Mum and I on our way to the hotel to change clothes after being "done up" and then to return to the wedding. Isn't she gorgeous??

Resie, Tess, and I during dinner. [Resie was my host at the Bible College in Phnom Penh, and I also lived for 2 weeks with Tess in Kratie.] Dinner was rather extravagent with 9 courses. I had much fun at the table with seven of my favorite Cambodian people, all complimenting me on looking "Srey Khmer" (Cambodian woman) and trying to teach me how to eat the many different foods.

You may be able to tell from this picture that the ceremony was held outdoors in a tent, in the bride's front lawn. It was a beautiful transformation.
Cheata, Tess, Srey Roath, and myself at the end of the night. I had met Srey Roath a week before, but she was completely different between the church/classroom atmosphere, and the wedding celebration. She convinced me to join her in just one traditional dance, but I had so much fun that we all danced for three more hours!

Love love love, Jewel

1 comment:

  1. This was so interesting!!! I love getting a peak into the Cambodian culture through your eyes!!!