A Dunenese bridegroom ceremony is a common wedding practice in the Sudan. At a traditional Sudanese wedding, the bridegroom is welcomed to the wedding site with an auspicious decoration called the ‘umbul-umbul’, a type of ‘wedding announcement’. The mother of the bride gives the bridegroom a garland of flowers, welcoming him into her family. She also gives him a ‘keris’, a hidden message encouraging him not to be disheartened while toiling for his family. The bridegroom welcome is followed by a procession of ladies with candles, who pray for the ceremony. The bride and groom sit next to each other under an umbrella in front of the entrance to their future home with a veil covering both of their heads. The umbrella is held over the couple’s head, serving not only a very practical purpose by also symbolizing esteem and respect.
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The bride and groom bend forward and kiss the knees of their parents, a ceremony called sungkem, asking for forgiveness and blessing and promising to continue to serve their parents. This wedding ritual is held in front of a gargoyle fountain. Water flowing from the gargoyle suggests the continuous flow of priceless parental love for their children. A chosen man and woman, sing a special song called kidung on behalf of the parents, advising the couple to treat each other well and to live in harmony. Kidung also invokes blessing upon the couple.
An egg breaking ceremony, called nincak endog, requires the couple to stand facing each other in front of their house. The bridegroom stands outside the entrance and the bride stands inside. The ceremony is conducted by the Sudanese equivalent of an American ‘maid of honor’, who remains an advisor throughout the marriage. In this ceremony, seven broomsticks are burnt and thrown away, dramatizing the discarding of bad habits which endanger married life.The groom is pronounced master of his house when the egg is broken. His bride cleans his foot with water from a kendi, an earthen water jug that represents peace. Then she breaks the kendi and crosses over a log into the house, demonstrating willing obedience to her future husband. She is fed a dish of turmeric sticky rice with yellow-spiced chicken to symbolize the last time the parents of the bride will feed their daughter. The groom remains outside for another ceremony, which is enacted before him by a couple that sing. During this ceremony, the groom, via the vocalists, requests to enter his bride’s house, and she consents when he agrees to confirm his Moslem faith. Having done so, the couple is given a barbecued spiced chicken to pull apart on a signal from the ‘maid of honor’. According to tradition, the one who gets the larger piece will bring in the larger share of the family fortune. The ceremony also portrays the importance of working together to acquire fortune.
Following the wedding ceremony, dancers shower the bride and groom with wedding flowers to insure a fragrant future for the couple. A sawer, made of turmeric rice, coins, and candy, is thrown at the couple. Rice is a symbol of prosperity, and yellow is for everlasting love. The coins remind the couple to share their wealth with the less fortunate, and the candy bestows sweetness and fragrance upon their marriage. Seven candles are lit representing the direction the couple should follow to bring about a happy married life. A betel nut set near the couple is a reminder that different customs should not spoil a harmonious marriage.
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