Having never attended a Palestinian wedding, I was so intrigued by Amera’s photos that I had to learn more about her day. I’ve always been fascinated by cultures from around the world. Her photos and the traditions they portray are a feast for the eyes.
Both Amera’s parents and her husband Mosa’s parents are Palestinian but she and Mosa were born and raised in Michigan. Amera’s grandmother and Mosa’s aunt introduced them. Amera was quick to remind me that it wasn’t an arranged marriage! She and Mosa are in their 20s and had been so focused on school, and then careers that they had left little time for socializing. She said they hit it off the first day they met and continued to develop a relationship for the weeks and months that followed. Amera said:
What really brought us together are our common family traditions and values. It seems to be harder and harder with each new generation to find a mate that has the same views and morals your parents instill in you. When we discovered that common thread, we knew our lives were forever going to change for the better, together.
Amera wore an elaborate ball gown by British designer Augusta Jones. She had it customized by the designer, adding lace to the bodice and back of the gown. Her reception was held at Crystal Gardens where the tone of the whole evening was set by music, beginning with the beating of drums. She describes one of the dances called Fallahy, which translates to “traditional”. The women gather in a circle and clap while singing old stories to the beat of a drum. A few of the elders often dance in the middle of the circle and wave small handkerchiefs to the rhythm.
Another dance that has various forms is called a Debkeh. Here, men and women join in a circle, holding hands or wrapping their arms around each other’s shoulders, and perform patterned steps and stomp to specific songs. Many Palestinians learn these steps when they are young children and are so excited when a Debkeh begins.
As in other Middle Eastern cultures, the bride and groom are raised over the crowd. Mosa was carried up on another man’s shoulders and Amera sat in a chair while being raised above the guests.
In one photo, Amera is holding two beautifully decorated candles. Here she is performing the symbolic Candle Dance as she circles the crowd until she reaches Mosa. He then blows out the candles and they begin dancing together.
Throughout the evening, one can hear women giving out Zagrootahs. These are the hard-to-imitate high-pitched calls with a trilling quality made by the tongue.
And towards the end of the evening we get to the best part of the wedding – the gifts of gold! Can you believe it? Every girl’s dream! Close relatives approach the bride and give her gold jewelry. Amera said that the gifts are usually gold since their value is always present and can be saved for generations.
Amera went to Henry Ford College and got her degree in Radiography and is currently job searching. Mosa attended University of Michigan Dearborn and got his degree in Accounting. He is currently working at Ford Motor Company.
Amera wanted me to know how much her family’s traditions mean to her. She hopes that she and Mosa can keep these traditions alive throughout their marriage and that someday she can watch their children follow the same path. Congratulations, Amera and Mosa, from all of