Parties and Rituals Before The Wedding in Sudan
While I was couchsurfing in Sudan I had an honour to be invited to typical Sudanese wedding by hosts relative. I was really excited since I never been to any non western wedding in my life before.
Like anywhere in the world, getting married in Sudan is a big thing, if not the greatest things for Sudanese women and accompanied with traditional rituals and celebration way before the wedding day. There are several celebrations always separated for groom and bride.
I attended the brides side parties, while male relatives had their own celebrations. I can not write much about the grooms part but was told that they have similar parties.
Sudanese Pre Wedding Rituals and Celebrations
Dokhan – Scented Smoke Bath for Beauty
The bride to be was living with my hosts family. She intentionally moved to relatives because according to tradition it is not good for her that people see her before wedding at her home. Superstition says it brings bad luck. On general brides move away from home from one or up to three months and live with relatives in this time, preparing for wedding.
One of major preparations, basically a part of beauty regime prior to wedding day, is the unique ritual called Dokhan, a kind of sauna where bride sits naked, covered in blanket on a dug hole in the ground, containing the burning embers of talih – a fragrant acacia wood that apparently gives the skin a glowy yellowish look, softness and alluring musty smell.
Our Sudanese bride to be was indulging rigorously in this smoke baths for a whole month, each day for about thirty minutes, following skin treatment with bleach cream. Somehow girls on general thrive to get the bright as possible shade of skin till wedding day.
Shila – Night of the Gifts
Shila was the first ritual /celebration. This is the night where female relatives from both bride and grooms side gather together and bring gifts for the bride. Looks like Christmas once all the gifts were presented in front of guests.
Presents contain gifts bought from the groom for future wife – she got big suitcase full of dresses, shoes, cosmetics, lingerie, beautiful fabrics, basically all the things that will make the future wife beautiful and appealing to husband), lots of household supplies and practical things like coal for cooking, oil, etc…
Venue was simple and modest, right on the street in front of brides house. Chairs for guests, little stage for gifts and music. After the gifting ceremony women were singing and dancing. Like all parties held outside in Sudan, party closed down exactly at 11 PM. You can see short clip on my Youtube Channel.
Khmora – Perfume Making Ritual for the Bride
I somehow missed this event, I was away from town travelling. But I was told that each bride to be in Sudan gets custom made perfume made by close female relatives. It is unique in scent, like signature.
Wearing perfume on general is reserved for married ladies only. In social cue means woman is married, therefore unmarried women by wearing perfume could send wrong signals:)
Literally, if you smell a perfume on a woman in Sudan, means she is definitely married, taken. On this event usually two perfumes are mixed: dry perfume and liquid version where natural fragrances are used from sandalwood, musk, damask rose, Dufra, Mahlab, Alsuratiya, Almahlabiya and Magmoo (let me know if you know these ones, I have no idea what they are)!