THE MARRIAGE IN MOROCCO
An old Moroccan proverb says, Christians spend their Money on lawsuits, Jews on religious festivities and Moroccan on weddings. Indeed, there isn´t any event in Morocco that can be compared with the marriage.
In today’s Moroccan society, the burden of tradition is being made lighter day by day, and the celebrations are simplified by way of introducing innovations particular to this century. With the passing of time, countless rituals and customs, inherited from ancestral times and therefore not following the Islamic spirit, have disappeared.
Filled with acts and symbolical gestures that express breaking from the previous life, the body’s purification, the protection against evil spirits, the surrender to the husband’s will, the male’s vigor, etc. some of these acts are very beautiful and interesting from the ethnological point of view. All of them are assigned to make the union safe, prosperous and happy. We are going to refer to these acts.
Full of rituals and allegories, the complex ceremony of a traditional Moroccan wedding could be seen as a means to initiate the future spouse along a path in which each stage wants to express the symbolical death of her previous life, until the final mutation into a mature woman by the act of the consummation of their marriage. The solemnity of the ceremonies magnifies the Moroccan woman, raising her to the condition of a sublime being.
Together with the wife, the other women are the heroines of this story: the makeup assistants, the hairdressers, the interior decorators, the embroiderers, the dress makers, the cooks and the mistress of ceremonies, all participate in the staging, in which for once, men are relegated to mere spectators, including the groom, whose contribution is limited.
The hamman ritual
For the Islamic world, water is a divine gift, but it also means the profound wisdom and the purity, the drink that quenches the soul’s thirst. Thus, the hamman is turned into a purifying place par excellence and into a mandatory place for life’s great events: birth, circumcision and marriage.
Moroccans are convinced that the genies (yenun) like to dwell where there is abundance of wáter, and therefore, there are genies in the hamman that take control of those who come to bother them in an insolent manner. When a bride to be, an expectant mother or a new born baby cometo fulfill the ritual, they light candles and cry out “yu-yus” invoking the favour of the genies.
Pursuing their physical and spiritual purification, the tradition requires the bride to go to a hamman, which has been rented for the occasion, seven consecutive nights. With the passing of time this ritual has been reduced to just one bath. Her mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, neighbours and friends take her in a procession of candles, incense and “yu-yus”. They sing songs to beauty and praise the Prophet Muhammad. All the girls, old enough to get married, want to go that day with the bride so as to benefit from the same luck, which according to popular tradition, is bestowed on those who accompany the bride.
For this occasion, an authentic beauty parlour is organized around the bride, and there a whole ritual regenerating beauty and sensuality put into practice. Some old historical treatises show the fashions and hygienic customs that were practiced in those times, such as, the use of dental paste, depilatory creams and aromatic foams impregnated with the essence of musk, jasmine or violet.