Friday, October 16, 2009

My First Moroccan Party

This is the story my first real Moroccan party. I didn’t know what was going on from the beginning and the picture just got less and less clear as the night went on. However, I found myself always wondering what was coming next just like a kid on Christmas morning.

I was invited to go to a party at a one of my neighbors houses. Malika dressed me in one of her dresses and we got all dolled up to go. This house was big and beautiful. We first went into a sitting room full of only women where we ate tiny cookies and drank tea. We stayed there for about and hour and a half and I was wondering when we were going to leave because I was already so tired. But at about 9:30 some women began serving lots and lots of delicious food. First a gigantic plate of chicken came out for each table. We ate chicken and bread and drank Coke, and by that time I was completely full. THEN a gigantic plate of beef topped with prunes came out for each table. I should have expected this, but I was still shocked. After dinner was finished Malika took me upstairs and we went into the bedroom of one of the daughters in the house. I saw a girl with pale makeup on, a pretty updo, and a shiny green dress. At this moment I was convinced I was at a wedding. (I will just say now that I found out the next day that this was indeed just an engagement party.-not yet a wedding.) This beautiful girl and her sisters were chatting and primping and I got to be a part of it. The bride-to -be was such a sweet girl and kept calling me beautiful, when I kept repeating the same to her. Finally we moved into the upstairs sitting room which was bigger and more beautiful. We sat and socialized for a while then the bride and groom-to-be came into the room hand in hand while all the women chanted and made some crazy cool sounds. They sat down at the head of the room where people preceded to take many pictures of them. At this time the groom presented the bride with her gifts of jewelry, which is customary of all Moroccan arranged marriages. Basically the groom buys the bride with jewelry.
Even though the bride-to-be was in her own home with her own family she was still very quiet and shy. She was so sweet, excited, and talkative in her room among her sisters and friends. I could tell she was probably nervous and scared as she is only 19 years old and her groom is probably at least several years older than her. The groom seemed like a very nice and charming man from what I could understand. The tables were full with more cookies, candies and cups of tea. The bride and groom-to-be fed each other dates as some kind of ritual that I could compare to a newlywed couple shoving wedding cake in one another’s mouths. Then everyone in the room got a small glass of milk and the couple fed each other milk just like they did with the dates.
The couple left the room apparently to change into other clothes, for what I don’t know why. While they were gone some of the younger girls started dancing, including myself. We tied scarves around our hips to give our bodies some shape in a shapeless dress. A good portion of the people in my town are Berbers so the women were singing traditional Berber wedding songs. It was really cool, the energy was high and everyone was having fun. Some women were playing a small hand drum and calling out chants in order to get a response. We were dancing Moroccan style which involved a lot of hip shaking and flowing arm movements. I hope I was good at it, I could tell most of the women liked me. I was glad to make a good impression on them without having to speak.
The couple came back in with different clothes on and I’m not sure why they changed or what they represent. We danced some more and I enjoyed hanging out with the bride-to-be’s 3 younger sisters, who are all very sweet. When we were in her room the bride spoke to me a little bit in English so I already felt we had a little bond. At certain times in the night I caught eye contact with her and tried to give her a supportive and reassuring smile to try to help her get though this night. At times just wanted to hold her hand and tell her that everything would be ok.
We did not leave until 2:30am and I had to get up in 4 hours. I will say I was tired the following day but it was incredibly worth it in order to be a part of a family celebration in Morocco.