Attend a Wedding in Palestine : If you come to volunteer with us at the Excellence Center you will have the opportunity to live with a host family. Due to the large size of families here in Palestine, chances are you will get to attend a wedding. Palestinian weddings are certainly a sight to see. The festivities last over four days and while you may not attend the full length of traditional weddings you will definitely be invited by your host family to enjoy some of the celebration.
Maneesha is from the United States and she is bringing her extensive knowledge of computer science to university students here in Palestine with assistance from us at the Excellence Center. Maneesha was lucky enough to attend a wedding with her host family. Maneesha tells us, “I stayed for about two hours, there were roughly two hundred women in the room and then the groom. The women from his family came out and danced and then he left the women from the bride’s family danced as well.” She tells us how her whole time in Palestine thus far she has seen stores with these amazingly ornate, sometimes backless, sparkling dresses and has always wondered where these dresses were worn by local Palestinian women, “now I know they are worn for occasions such as this. The women were very, very glamorous, it was beautiful to see them all so dressed up. The fashion was just amazing.”
At the celebration Maneesha was served cake from a big, beautiful, white wedding cake and it was delicious. Maneesha says, “the part I loved most was when the bride danced in her beautiful white wedding dress, holding a white Koran in front of the groom. The she brought the Koran to him, the groom kissed the Koran and then kissed the forehead of the bride.” Another part of the celebration that was memorable for Maneesha was when at one point the male members of the bride’s family came in and “gifted the bride beautiful jewelry, like diamond necklaces.” As Maneesha attended this party there was a separate celebration taking place for all of the men of both families. Maneesha also recalls, “at one point about twenty members off the groom’s family and friends came and brought the groom in on their shoulders.”
Alexa from the United States is participating in our “Volunteer to Write about Palestine” program. She has yet to attend a wedding but this past week was present during a special occasion that is a precursor to all weddings. Alexa got to witness the first meeting between a future bride and groom. “We went over to my host mother’s son’s house, one of her older granddaughters was dressed up beautifully with these amazing shoes and beautiful make up.” Alexa explains she knew something special was about to happen because usually when they go over to the house everyone is in comfortable clothes or pajamas. She asked what was going on and she was told the groom’s family and the groom were coming over that evening. “At first then men stayed in a front sitting room and just the mother and sister of the groom came into the back living room. We drank tea, ate nuts and fruit and were offered sweet biscuits.” Alexa tells us, “the granddaughter was obviously excited and nervous, before they arrived we kept joking together about how she needed to take deep breaths. After some time the groom eventually came from the front room where the men were meeting and into the back room with us. He also was very shy and obviously nervous, but he couldn’t stop grinning.” Alexa speaks of how, “amazing it was to get to witness this moment, this is not an event that we as outsiders normally get a window into.”
As you can see, our international volunteers are really treated as part of the family and invited into such special moments for the people they are staying with. There is really no other situation where international volunteers are enveloped into the family such as this. The hospitality of the Palestinian culture is really visible here.