June 15, 2013

Casamento Moçambicano

Bride and Groom during the wedding Ceremony
 Last Saturday, Sarah and I went to our first Mozambican wedding!  The wedding was held at the gospel church in Messica where Sarah has been to a few times with our friends Otilia and Flora.  I had never been to the church since whenever I'm in Messica on a Sunday I go to the Catholic Church.  So this was my first time in an African church other than the Catholic church.  We arrived a little late because Sarah was at a school meeting and I was laying in bed trying to get over a pretty nasty cold. Sidenote: having a cold/being sick in Africa is just misery. 

Greeting line outside the church
When Sarah got home from school, I decided that even though I still wasn't feeling so great I couldn't pass up going to the wedding, so we put on our dresses and headed to the church.  When we arrived there were a ton of people standing outside of the church, and people were literally overflowing from  the church with crowds around both the entrances to the church.  We made our way up to the doors to see what was going on.  There was lots of singing and dancing, and little else was visible.  We were beckoned outside and over to some people to hand over the wedding cake that Sarah made to offer to the bride and groom.  We were then told to wait there while they went in the overcrowded church to find us some seats.  We insisted that we didn't need seats and we could just stand in the back, but they just weren't having that.   A few short minutes later, we were being escorted through the crowd to a bench that clearly had been vacated for us.  (I wish I could say that this special treatment doesn't happen often, but that would simply be untrue.  It bothers me but at the same time I know people are just trying to be nice and considerate, even though it makes us feel isolated and awkward.)

Making their way to the car.

The singing entourage of the newlyweds.
 The ceremony lasted for about another hour after we arrived.  It was a tiny church, probably about a third of the size of my church in Messica.  And it was hot.  And crowded.  And hot.  And did I mention hot?  Yet none of these things stopped the dancing, singing, and rejoicing that was going on in that church.  When I look beyond the pounding headache and slight feeling like I was going to pass out, it was seriously awesome and I feel beyond blessed to have witnessed it.  That being said, it would have been a lot more enjoyable without a cold.

Two of my students, Olivio and Tone.

One of the things I found interesting about the ceremony is that the wedding cake was at the church, and the cutting of the cake was part of the ceremony.  After the bride and groom feeding each other pieces of cake, they cut and passed out bite-sized pieces for everyone in the church.  I don't really know what the significance of the cake is, but it was delicious so I wasn't complaining.

After the wedding, the bride and groom made their way to a car and the dancers from the wedding along with many wedding-goers piled into a truck to sing celebratory songs and accompany the newlyweds to Casa Msika where they would take their wedding photos (I found this out after the fact.  I was honestly really confused about where they were going  and why they were gone for so long).  We then made our way to the pastor's house where the reception would be  held.  There were ladies from the church (including our friend Flora and Otilia) that didn't go to the wedding and had been cooking all morning.  There were at least 150-200 wedding-goers that showed up to the reception to eat, so the ladies had their work cut out for them.  There were some tables and chairs set up (but not nearly enough for  everyone).  There was also a drum set and keyboard set up which were the first of their kinds that I've seen in over 8 months.  Exciting things, people!

Reception site.

Otilia with the cake Sarah made (center) and a lot of batatas fritas!

Dininha! If you say she isn't the cutest, you're wrong.

Cows...why wouldn't there be cows at the reception?


Waiting for the bride and groom to arrive.  Check out Martins in this picture. Hahahaha.

About a half hour after arriving at the reception, I was surprised to be served lunch even though the bride and groom had not yet arrived.  We were each served a heaping plate of spaghetti, rice, beef, salad, french fries, and little biscuit type cookies.  Sarah and I decided to split one plate and it's a good thing we did, because with both of us eating we couldn't even finish the plate.  Ridiculous.

When the food was served, the offerings of gifts started.  They started even before the bride and groom arrived.  There was a man with a microphone who received all the gifts on behalf  of the couple and announced each gift.  Lots of people gave money, but there were also other gifts as well.  There were many processions and dances with the gifts. It was just super interesting and very different to see.  I suppose it's much more meaningful to give gifts when you live in a country where you don't have very much in the first place.

The first group of dancers (Messica).
The majority of the dancing at the reception was done by 2 groups of dancers.  There was one group that came from Beira to dance at the wedding.  They performed choreographed dances to different songs.  There was also another group from Messica.  Personally, I think the Messica group was better (and EVERYONE wanted to know my opinion) but I also am a little biased.  The dancing was awesome, and it was the main event of the reception.

Dininha dancing with the group from Beira.

Best dressed at the wedding.  Chased this kid down to get his picture. :)

Sarah and I were also extremely popular at the reception because we had these magic machines that we like to call cameras.  Mozambicans are crazy for pictures.  Kids were following me around in a huge posse.  Students were like, “Teacher, take a picture of me over here....now over here...”  Seriously outrageous.  They also want to film everything.  No joke, everything.  I was sitting with two students while eating dinner and they were like, “teacher, you shoud film right now.”  I legitimately just looked at them like...what?  What would I even film?   I looked at them and said, “guys...there's nothing to film right now.”  They looked around, shrugged their shoulders, and reluctantly agreed that there wasn't much going on.  Sorry guys, I'm not trying to have hours of footage of people sitting around.  No thank you.

Sarah, Otilia, and I

Us with the bride and groom.


Our friend Flora (far left) and her family

Sarah dancing....can't pick her out or anything...

I'm really glad I went, even though I paid for it when my cold got a little bit worse on Sunday.  Oh well.  You only live once, right? :)  So now I've been to one Mozambican wedding.  Can't wait for the next one!