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That is how we got married

OjairiDecades ago, particularly in the years before oil was struck in Kuwait, a man’s mother and some of her female neighbors and relatives usually went to propose for a certain girl (kannah as we used to call her) on his behalf without even seeing her. A groom usually depended on the mother-led delegation’s description of the bride and once he approved the selection, a dazza (some household items, presents and a dowry) was sent to the bride’s house.

It is noteworthy to mention that the dowry never exceeded 100 rupees (the equivalent of KD 7 at that time’s exchange rate). In this regard, I recall that the dowry paid for a well-known Kuwaiti lady, Fatima Hussein, was only a quarter dinar. After that, the marriage contract was usually signed on a Friday evening at a mosque or at the husband’s house. On the wedding’s evening, male family and friends gathered at the mosque to pray Isha prayers, then celebrate on the way to the bride’s house in a parade amidst women’s zaghroutas (traditional ululations) and men beating drums, especially if the groom was a sailor.

The groom then stayed as a guest at his bride’s house for one whole week, during which he had breakfast and lunch with them and dinner with his family. During this week, the bride’s family allocated a special housemaid (locally known as hawwafa) to serve the groom.

Once the first week was over, the bride was taken in a celebratory march to her permanent residence at her husband’s house. This process was known as tehwal (shifting or transfer). Three days after tehwal, the groom’s mother and female relatives visited the bride’s family on the day known as ‘thaleth’ (third)

Three days later, the bride’s mother repaid the visit on the ‘thuwaileth’ day. Oh, that was how we used to get married without seeing our wives until the wedding day. We then got used to them and they became the best mothers, giving birth to our nation’s glory! – Al-Anbaa

By Dr Saleh Al-Ojairi

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