Time passes fast and I'm quickly approaching my 6-month anniversary of arriving in Azerbaijan. That day will also make the start of the december advent time, and we can already see the stores are starting to get ready for Christmas. The approaching festivities make me think back on the more special days I have participated in over this time.
In these 6 months I've seen and experienced many things, so I thought to write a few notes on some holidays and celebrations I've experienced. The most noteworthy must be the exciting wedding I got to be a part of!
So, In September I participated in my first azerbaijani wedding, I was thrilled to get to experience this as wedding was on the top of my list of what I wanted to experience. Joining a wedding in any country is always a special event, but especially seeing foreign wedding traditions is a great memory.
The event we joined was "the girls wedding", so it was just the first part of the wedding of sorts. Let me be explain, there are two "weddings" in Azerbaijan: "The girl wedding" is actually an engagement party, it makes the engagement official, but the couple is not living together yet. Then some months later the "boys wedding" is the real wedding and the couple is husband and wife with all that entails.
The wedding started at the girls house, where aunts, grandma, mom and friends (and me!) were hanging out with the (slightly nervous) bride-to-be. The mood was giddy with excitement and relatives in other countries Skyped to participate by long-distance. People were chatting and hanging out while we waited for the boys family. After some time someone burst in saying that tha car had arrived, and nervous laughter and last minute make-up checks were done before the family came carrying baskets of sweets. After a photo-shoot the couple were escorted out to a waiting car, and we quickly followed as we went off to the wedding palace. All single girls (me included) were carrying the baskets of the sweets as we drove over to the celebration place. (I suppose to wish us luck or encourage us to find a man soon)
The wedding palace is elaborately decorated halls with circular tables filled to the brim with food and sweets. In the middle of the room on a "stage" the couple sits in front of a dance space. After a bit of waiting for everyone to arrive the couple entered the room, cameras were fixed on the couple as they entered and the ceremony where the couple put the ring on each others fingers. The ceremonial part of the wedding was over, but now the feast started! New, delicious dishes constantly came to the table and I got to try dolma, plov, kebabs and many Azerbiajani dishes. The waiter noticing I was not from Azerbaijan took special attention to me, bringing me two of everything, so I came home stuffed to the brim after that.
The couple is quite young, so the music was a mix of modern (English, spanish, french, russian) and traditional azerbaijani songs, which of course we were dancing to! Now, I'm terrible at dancing, but to everyones amusement I was dragged onto the dance floor several times (dancing my awkward version of azerbaijani dance, but having even children outdoing me).
Take a look at this small video I compiled