After a month of cancelled meetings, I finally had another Kurdish lesson with Raz. The first thing she did after I got to her house was show me her engagement photos. Remember when I wrote that photos were a big part of the wedding process? Well, I had no idea.
Photos: There was a huge wall photo, as well as a bound book of gorgeous photos. Raz and her fiancee, Hama (a common nickname for Mohammad), were dressed to the nines and each photo was elaborately staged.
Before/during the wedding party, a second round of photos are taken. Raz will wear her white wedding dress, and Hama his suit. Often, halfway through the wedding party the bride will change into a jili Kurdi.
Blood testing: Raz and Hama also had to get their blood tested before they were allowed to go to the courthouse. Now, I think this is the strangest and yet most Kurdish part of the wedding process. It’s a scientific justification for a mix of traditional beliefs. Raz and Hama had to get their blood taken, she said, in order to make sure their blood types were compatible for their future children (bo mendalakan). She’s B+ and he’s O-, so they’re good. But if he were B-, for some reason that would pose a problem.
Their blood doesn’t get checked for diseases, or for fertility, just blood type. Raz didn’t know the specifics, but she asserted that it is very important. I asked what would happen if their blood wasn’t compatible. She didn’t know, but she figured the wedding would be called off, or at least it would be more difficult to get a marriage certificate.
So, the day after their blood was given the OK, a female minister (mela) came to Raz’s house and officially married them. She witnessed their signatures on the marriage certificate, etc. Traditionally, Raz and Hama aren’t “married” until they move in together after the wedding party, but really they are. Although they are said to be engaged, if they should call off the marriage now then they would be considered divorced.
Rings: There is a ring ceremony early on in the engagement. Where in the US, there’s an engagement ring and a wedding ring, in Kurdistan both bands are given at the time of engagement. Both rings are worn on the right hand and after the wedding party they are switched to the left.
Gold: Gold is the traditional gift for the bride. The bride asks for a certain amount of gold jewelry from the groom, and then receives it at the wedding party. Friends and other family members may also give gold to the bride. Raz asked for a ring, earrings, two bracelets, and a necklace from Hama. This isn’t much – she said that often brides ask for an exorbitant amount. Raz’s father is also giving her a gold necklace.
Raz said that they will probably have their wedding party in July (mangi haut). No! I told her, June (mangi shesh)!!!! I’m leaving in June! Get married in June! So we’ll see. There’s still hope…
Also, I’ve told the school director that I’m not going to return to the school next year, and that I’m very unhappy with some recent events which have transpired in the school (can’t tell you what they were, but I was furious).
The director’s response to my departure?
“Oh, that’s ok. But are you going to finish out the year?”
Wow. I feel like such a valued employee. So no regrets about leaving.