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Assyrian Chaldean Syrian Wedding Traditions
By Rafi Michael (edited by Lynne Hand)
The wedding really starts the night before (usually Friday) in the groom’s house where a small party is held known as (khyapta d khitna) or a shower party for the groom (literally). Usually the party is small and only the closest relatives and friends are invited to the shower.
As a tradition, the bride is not invited to this little gathering, the reason being is to let the bride rest well and she is not allowed to see the groom until the next day.
The party starts with some Assyrian Chaldean music till the groom is taken by his best man to the bathroom to take his last shower before his wedding however, in another tradition, a little boy, normally the ring boy, must take a shower before the groom.After the young boy and the groom have showered, the music, dance, drinks and food continues until the early hours.
The wedding day (often Saturday) starts when the groom’s family prepares to go over to the bride’s house and take her to church. As the groom’s family is preparing, the photographer takes pictures of the groom and his ushers as they are getting ready.
The photographer also videosand takes pictures as the groom gives away little corsages to his family members, cousins and close friends, when that is done, they all dance in celebration of the special day. The groom and his ushers go to church and wait for the arrival of the bride, his family, cousins, and close friends go to the Bride’s house to take her to church. What happens in the groom’s house happens in the bride’s house as soon as the groom’s family arrives.
Early in the day, the bride and her bridesmaids start their day by fixing their hair, putting on their make up and getting dressed, the photographer arrives and takes pictures of the bride and her maids in their beautiful dresses.
The groom’s family arrives at the bride’s house. And this time the bride gives away little corsages to her family and takes pictures with everyone to cherish those memories. When the time comes to leave for the church, the groom’s family start singing and as they are taking the bride, normally, one member of her family will stand by the door and not let the bride leave unless someone from the groom’s family pays the amount asked for, as soon as the amount requested is given, than the bride is let out and off to church they go.
In church, the bride’s father or brother or uncle normally walks her down the aisle and gives her away to the groom. As the wedding ceremony concludes, the bride and groom, ushers and maids of honour all go to a park to take more pictures.
Assyrian Chaldean Syrian wedding receptions are often held in banquet halls. The halls vary in size depending on the number of wedding guests, usually upward of three or four hundred guests. Usually Assyrian Chaldean weddings are hosted and put on by the groom's family.
As the guests arrive, appetizers are served. As soon as the groom and bride arrive in the hall, most of the guests and family members prepare for the grand entrance of the bride and groom by waiting at the doors with their Yalekhta.
Assyrian Chaldean Syrian weddings have many unique symbols and one of them is Yalekhta, which is a piece of thin, see through, square shaped fabric decorated with many little different beads that make it look very unique and fancy; the more yalekhta there are, the nicer the wedding looks.
There is also a cane, covered in white fabric and decorated with white pearls normally used by the person leading the Assyrian Chaldean dance. The grand entrance starts with the last pair of ushers and the maid of honour entering the hall first, with a lot of music and people cheering, the rest of the couples enter one couple at a time and finally the bride and groom enter and everyone starts cheering louder and dances until they reach their table.
As the bride and groom and the rest of the group settle, everyone else starts dancing to Assyrian Chaldean Syrian music, which is normally the regular Assyrian Chaldean dance. The dance is a long line of people holding each other’s hands and simply dancing around, usually one person leading everyone else. Soft music is played throughout dinner.
After dinner everyone is welcomed by a member of the bride’s family and a member of the groom’s family on the families’ behalf. Toasts are made and the wedding proceeds with more dancing and drinking until late at night. At the end of the wedding, instead of presenting gifts to the groom and bride, it is a tradition to pay money, because it is understood to be more useful than gifts, they can purchase what they desire with that money. Paying the money is called subkhta.