Weddings in different cultures

2017-09-29 06:00
PHOTOS: suppliedHermann van Aswegen, son of Vincent and Heidi from Umtentweni, recently married Nicole, daughter of Debbie Elliott from Hartebeespoort Dam at Zakopane Country Lodge in Brits last month.

PHOTOS: suppliedHermann van Aswegen, son of Vincent and Heidi from Umtentweni, recently married Nicole, daughter of Debbie Elliott from Hartebeespoort Dam at Zakopane Country Lodge in Brits last month.

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AS the country celebrates Heritage Day on Sunday a look at Zulu, Indian and white wedding unpacks the ins and outs of these three cultures on the South Coast and how these groups say “I do”.

While central to the three is the theme of colour and extravagance, none quite features colour as prominently as a three-day Indian wedding ceremony.

Starting off is the mendhi (henna) ritual held two nights before the official wedding. Marked by music and dance, Mendhi includes the drawing of various designs on the bride’s hands and feet.

“The use of mendhi in the pre-wedding ritual has a scientific definition behind it as mendhi has cooling properties, which help calm the bride’s pre-wedding jitters.

“After the designs are adorned on the hands and feet of the bride, somewhere within the design hides the name of the groom and the groom has to find it,” says Nirmala Ramdeen of Uvongo.

Next is the hurdhee ceremony, which Shameetha Perumal from Marburg says, features the smearing of hurdhee paste onto the body of the bride and the groom by a married woman to bestow blessings for a happy marriage.

“Hurdhee paste is made up of ground green turmeric sticks mixed with sandalwood powder and rose water and symbolises the washing away of anything impure. The yellow stain left behind leaves a glowing look on the skin.

“The paste is also medically beneficial as it removes dead skin and keeps away acne,” said Perumal.

On the wedding day the bride and the groom say seven sanskrit vows around a fire together before dipping their hands into a bowl filled with milk and rose petals to look for their rings while facing each other.

“It is said that the winner who finds the ring first rules the roost for the rest of their lives,” says Perumal.

The final and important ritual of the ceremony is when the newlyweds bow down at their parents feet. It is based on the principle of matha, peetha, guru, Dev - mother, father, teacher and God - whose blessings are deemed paramount to obtaining a successful life.

The “Ulwazi sharing of indigenous knowledge” programme established by the former head of information systems, Betsie Greyling, says that a traditional Zulu wedding is different, but has stages, with the first being the payment of lobola.

“Once lobola has been paid izibizo will follow, where gifts are given to the bride’s family, followed by umbondo where the bride reciprocates by buying groceries for the groom’s family, and finally the actual wedding followed by umabo, the final most important ritual of the wedding where the bride gives gifts to the groom’s family to signify the formation of a new bond between families,” says the Ulwazi website.

The actual wedding day is also marked by colour, song, dance and customary symbolism.

Facilitating the occasion is the inDuna (chief’s advisor), who asks the bride and groom whether they agree that they were not forced into the marriage. Upon agreement a cow is slaughtered to celebrate and the couple’s family and friends sing and dance to Zulu hymns.

White weddings are distinguished by a white gown worn by the bride. They are officiated in front of a priest or minister in a Christian church before celebrations at a wedding reception with dancing, speeches and the throwing of the bouquet and garter by the bride and groom.

Online wedding planners, Wedding Manor, says the historical throwing of the garter and bouquet at white weddings stems from the age-old belief that it was considered good luck to get a fragment of the bride’s clothing.

“In those days, the bride was treated poorly. Guests would grab at her wedding dress to tear off pieces. Although brides continued to believe they would not be wearing their wedding gowns again, they objected to its wanton destruction.

“They looked for an alternative, and thus began the custom of throwing personal articles, such as the garter, to the guests,” says the website.


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