CHARLOTTE – Marriage: doing things properly

Marriage: doing things properlyYou might notice in Turkey that young people mostly go out in a group couples tend not to go out in public without a chaperone. Of course, the chaperone may just be your little brother or a friend.

Most Westerners do not realize that in certain conservative parts of Turkish society, spending time alone together with someone of the opposite sex can be seen as behaving loosely and could ruin the girl’s reputation. Marriage usually involves the family and its approval to some degree.

Arranged marriages still take place in villages or among the very wealthy, where there may be an alliance of interests. Among the more conservative people, family members have a say in the choice of partner It’s not uncommon for the groom to be older than the bride because he typically has to complete military service and work to earn some money before considering marriage.

 I am often asked by Westerners if Turks ever marry for love. Marrying for love is becoming common among young middle-class urban Turks and they sometimes do so without parental consent.

The bride and her family will have prepared a eyiz (dowry), which includes clothes and household goods. This is kept for the daughter until a marriage date has been set.

 When a couple decides to get married there are certain steps to be taken: szlu, niIanlI and evli: “Szlu” is a pre-engagement arrangement. This officially allows the couple to see each other and spend time together, although not alone.

It is a serious commitment and is considered a grave breach of honor if you break it. “NiIanlI” means engaged.

The process of becoming engaged involves all members of both families. The hopeful groom’s family visits the woman’s family to ask for her hand in marriage.

This is a formal visit they will be wearing their best clothes and will be served the finest of refreshments. In order for the man not to lose face, his prospective bride will respond to his proposal in a subtle way.

She will make coffee and if she wishes to accept the proposal (or if she is instructed to do so by her mother), she puts sugar in his cup. If she rejects it, she adds salt to his cup.

A party is then given to celebrate the engagement, overseen by a family elder During the ceremony, two rings tied together with a ribbon are presented to the couple: each puts the ring on their finger and the elder cuts the ribbon. “Evli” means married.

The first part of the marriage celebration is the “kIna geesi” (henna night). This is a party given for the bride by a few close friends, a married sister or older female relatives.

At a certain stage in the evening the single women will walk in a circle around the bride, carrying candles and handkerchiefs containing henna The bride is then encouraged to open her hand by the mother-in-law offering her a coin. She and her friends will then place the henna on their hands.

They dance and sing sad songs about losing their friend to another village. Married friends will talk about all sorts of horror stories about mothers-in-law.

 The official wedding ceremony is a civil ceremony. The couple will obtain a license to marry from the local authority and an official will conduct the ceremony, which is relatively short.

If held in a registry office, it is a little like a conveyor belt, so a wealthy family will prefer to pay more and have the official perform the ceremony at home or at a hotel. Because Turkey is a secular nation a religious wedding is possible but it must be accompanied by a civil ceremony.

A religious wedding on its own is not considered valid. It is also an offense to have more than one wife.

During the ceremony, right from the moment when the bride and groom come in, there is a lot of applause. People applaud when “yes” is said and upon the announcement that the couple are married.

 A nice tradition is when the bride and groom try to step on each other’s feet. It is believed this will show who will rule the house during the marriage! Large bouquets of flowers are sent, many photographs are taken and videos are recorded.

It is customary to give money, gold or jewelry. The lower classes make a large demonstration of this.

Those giving money pin it onto the bride’s dress or the groom’s collar There is a wedding party afterward and this varies in degree according to the families’ circumstances. A nice gesture on the bride and groom’s part is giving every guest a little souvenir — a piece of candy such as a sugarcoated almond or a small present.

After the couple is married, they need to get a family identity card. The bride is removed from the register of her old family and added to that of her husband’s.

Usually new couples move into fully furnished apartments. Traditionally, their parents are allotted certain rooms to furnish in full.

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SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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