The timing and rituals of the marriage ceremony for Uyghurs vary from city to city in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
While some Uyghurs living in the southern cities hold a private marriage ceremony on the day before the public wedding celebration, others living in northern cities hold the marriage ceremony in the early hours of the wedding day.
The marriage ceremony is performed in the bride’s house by an imam. Usually only the close relatives of the bride and groom are invited to this event. Before the ceremony, the bride’s family cleans their house and prepares a meal that includes bread, marmalade, fruits, sugar and pastry for guests.
Before the marriage ceremony, the bride says her goodbyes to her family while asking for their blessing. The community imam performs the wedding ceremony during which he asks both the bride and groom whether they accept each other as spouses. While the groom has to answer this question loudly, the bride has to reply quietly when she is asked for the third time.
After they both express their consent to the marriage, the bride and groom share a salty bread as a symbol of their love, loyalty and the beginning of their new life. They have to act quickly to take the bread, as the one who takes the bread first is considered more loyal. After the marriage ceremony, the groom and his family return to their home in order to complete the last preparations for the wedding ceremony.
The most interesting part of the ceremony occurs when the groom goes to the bride’s house, accompanied by his friends. The group plays the tambourine, the “suona” (a large metal horn) and the “rawap” (a long stringed instrument) while chanting. The bride’s family blocks the group’s entrance to the house while the groom and his friends try to push their way through. After gifts are given by the groom, he is allowed to enter into the house, followed by the entertainment.
The bride leaves her parent’s house while crying. Next, the wedding entourage with the bride and groom at the front go back to the groom’s house.
After the bride arrives at the groom’s house, the groom’s family, relatives and friends come to see the bride. While the groom is lifting the bride’s veil, songs praising the bride’s beauty and wishing happiness for the couple are sung.
After that, the wedding feast starts. At the beginning tea, sugar, dried nuts and fruits and pastries are served. Bread, boiled lamb and pilaf with meat are the most popular foods of Uyghur wedding ceremonies. Following the feast, a nighttime dance party starts.
The Uyghurs are a Turkic ethnic group living in China’s Xinjiang province. Uyghurs, whose history dates back to the fifth century B.C., were the first Turkic tribe to shift from nomadic living to permanent settlements.