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Monday, August 17, 2009

a "foreign" celebration

During the 6 weeks I spent in Cambodia this May/June, I was able to attend the wedding of the sister of one of my best friends [Vandy]. I can probably say that it was the most intercultural experience I have ever had, and I loved it! I can't wait for my next khmer wedding. =) I wonder if my sisters will be willing to wear THIS in my wedding.

Cambodian weddings are long and intricate affairs that consist of multiple ceremonies. It is a grand affair, full of color and festivity, as well as steeped in tradition. Musicians play throughout the day on traditional instruments, and the couple is dressed like royalty. The bridal party may change their outfits and hair several times in one day; and if the wedding were a weeklong affair, a color of dress would be established each day and the guests would be expected to dress only in that color. It can last from as short as one morning to as long as three days and nights, depending on the financial situation and social status of the bride and groom’s families. The wedding I attended was only a one-day affair, but it was an entire day as we were fed 3 meals.

Nary and Srey Leak were so kind to help me try on traditional khmer dresses. Every woman will wear a similar dress to Khmer weddings. Also, woman always change between morning and evening ceremonies [to fancy things up,] but I found only 1 dress, so I remained in this lavender dress.
Here you see Tess and I participating in the traditional hair cutting ceremony. To prepare the bride and groom for their life as a married couple, their hair is symbolically cut, representing a fresh start to their new relationship together as husband and wife. The parents, relatives, and friends take turns to symbolically cut the bride and groom's hair and give blessings and well-wishes.
Now Tess and I have had our hair and makeup professionally done at the neighbors house! I wish I had gotten pictures of this process! The bride's family hired an entire beauty salon to set up shop in the neighbor's home, and every [female] guest is traditionally expected to be professionally done up quite extravagently. I got a lot of attention for being the only "whitey" at the wedding, especially while getting my make-up done.

Srey Mum and I on our way to the hotel to change clothes after being "done up." Isn't she gorgeous??

Resie, Tess, and I during dinner. [[Resie was my host a missionary at the Bible College, and I also lived for 2 weeks with Tess in Kratie.]] Dinner was rather extravagent with 9 courses. I had much fun at the table with 7 of my favorite Cambodian people, all complimenting me on looking "Srey Khmer" (Cambodian woman) and trying to teach me how to eat the many different foods.

Chita, Tess, Srey Roath, and myself at the end of the night. I had met Srey Roath a week before, but she was completely different between the church/classroom atmosphere, and the wedding celebration! She convinced me to join her in just 1 traditional dance, but I had so much fun that we all danced for 3 more hours!

One of my favorite things at this wedding was the bride's mother's "num kom s'det khieu" [or sticky rice cake with mung bean.] It really looks terrible, [some might say snot, but I prefer a thicky, cloudy, white jello] and is usually wrapped in moist banana leaves. I don't know how else to explain it, but here are a few pictures::

My stomach says "YES PLEASE!!"


Jessie said...

No, you're right... i would prefer to not wear that.

Joni said...

Oh Jewel......

Jewel said...

I'm not sure either of you really have an option.. you love me. ;D