The Saharan provinces in Morocco celebrate the marriage ceremony differently from other regions of the kingdom, imbibing local traditions while remaining similar in substance and joy to other Moroccan marriages.
In the south of Morocco, the rituals and customs that accompany a traditional Sahrawi wedding are drawn from local tradition. It is a sacred rite surrounded by spirituality and where respect for traditions is paramount, starting with the celebration of marriage by all the members of the tribe in solidarity helping the newlywed financially to assume the costs of this event.
The Sahara marriage, a family affair.
One of the peculiarities of Sahara marriage manifests itself when the young man decides to marry, he must inform his mother of his intentions, who is responsible for transmitting his wish to the father of the family. The young man cannot under any pretext directly inform his father otherwise it would be interpreted as a lack of respect. Once the family decides on the future wife, we advise her family, and an intimate reception is organized to get to know each other and to discuss the details concerning the marriage ceremony, the date of the act before concluding by reading the Fatiha collectively. This is how the engagement takes place, which the two families attend in addition to the wise men and notables of the tribe.
A ritual apart …
The marriage begins with the dowry ceremony (Mahr) which is known as Dfouaâ in the Sahara. It is an opportunity for the husband and his family to demonstrate their generosity by offering a dowry generally composed of camels, fabrics to sew the Malahfa the traditional clothing of women in the region, jewelry, local perfume known as the name of Al Khamira, sugar among other gifts likely to please the bride and her relatives. The whole is transported from the house of the future husband to that of his bride in a long convoy which includes several members of the husband’s family. All the guests will be received by the family of the bride in a tent, the Kheimat Arrak, specially set up for this occasion in order to celebrate the dowry with a festive banquet to be appreciated under the sounds of drums and the local dances, lagadra.
The festivities linked to the Sahara marriage last in principle three days if not more depending on the husband’s means. On the first day of this event, a makeup artist called M’âlma takes care of styling and makeup the bride and of course garnishing her hands and feet with henna. During this time, the husband does not yet see his bride and on the second day the girl’s friends to tease the husband a little, hide his bride with a neighboring tribe and challenge him to find her. A game that brings fun and entertainment with a touch of excitement to the ceremony and is known as Atarawough which means fireworks or stealth. And to stimulate the challenge, some traps are nicely set by the friends of the bride to hinder the search for the husband.
A Sahara wife deserves…
The young bride for her part wears a malhfa and a veil which hides it from everyone’s eyes, and she takes refuge with a tribe whose members are happy to spoil her by offering her perfumes, fabrics and other gifts to thank her. of the honor of having taken refuge with them, while her husband accompanied by a few close friends is looking for her everywhere.
The Ahashlaf …
It is only on the third day the Ahashlaf, that the young woman is given in marriage, she is accompanied to the tent of her husband under the Youyous, the Hassani songs and the verses composed for the occasion by the poets of the region praising the bravery and generosity of the two families. That night we offer the bride a gift called Amrouk then the mother of the young woman sends a gift to the family of her son-in-law, who is said to be Al Faskhah and which corresponds to half of the goods offered to the groom at the time of the wedding. presentation of the dowry. The gift exchange symbolizes the spirit of solidarity and responsibility that now binds the two families.
Laylat Al Jaddah
One of the traditions observed by the Saharawi families consists in that the so-called Laylat Al Jaddah wedding night takes place at the parental home of the bride who can not leave the place until after giving birth and baptizing her first child. But many families send their daughters directly to their husbands. The Sahrawi marriage is rich in rites, customs, and traditions that distinguish it from any other celebration, but it constitutes above all an occasion of the meeting, solidarity and hospitality of the nomads of the great Sahara.