July and August are the traditional months when people in Turkey marry. We were very excited to get our first wedding invitation from a neighbour in the village. And the very next day we saw our own Romeo and Juliet in Tire. It seemed to be an omen.
Shakespeare goes football crazy
The Friday night saw about 200 people gather on open land in a housing estate for "kına", the traditional henna night. Guests arrived and were formerly introduced to the bride and groom's family. A singer provided live music. Eventually the happy couple swept forward and were escorted to two huge white chairs. They opened the proceedings by performing the "first dance" showered by pieces of shiny golden paper and everything captured on video, of course.
There was dancing but not a glass of alcohol anywhere. in fact, not a glass of anything. How strange to see so many people enjoying themselves without drink.
Later in the evening the bride was involved in a ceremony which involved putting henna into her hand.
Her fist was clenched tight and only opened when gold was proffered.
The following morning relatives and friends gathered at the groom's house in the village to make a big pot of keşkek, a dish made of pounded wheat and meat. From around 10am a steady stream of well wishers descended on the family farmhouse.
We had been delayed, dropping our dogs off in kennels in Torbalı and were among the last to give the couple a gift and say congratulations.
As usual a copious amount of food was brought forward, including keşkek and we did our best to do it justice.
As we were about to leave the groom and some young friends on the patio below began firing live rounds from a rifle. The noise was deafening. When we descended the stairs I was also invited to fire the shotgun. I had never fired a weapon since I was in the school army cadet corps aged about 17. But like riding a bike you never forget and I duly sprayed buckshot into the air amid a cry (in Turkish) of "don't hit the telephone and electricity wires."
Two hours later we headed off to the wedding party proper, held in a huge
open air arena in nearby Tire and attended by around 500 people. This is where
the couple take their vows.
The Turkish word for wedding feast is düğün, pronounced "doon" but almost making it two syllables, as in "doo-oon." It is also the word for circumcision party. So make sure what invitation you are accepting otherwise you may be in for a shock.
There was dancing, doves released, fireworks, a huge cake and finally the ceremony of
pinning money on the bride and groom.
Again there was not a drink in sight. But this was circumvented by
a Turkish friend who hijacked me and took me to a shop where several cans of beer
were purchased, to be drunk by the side of a busy road, outside the wedding salon
while we sat on small mats.