USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘sudanese’
Customs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Weddings in Sudan

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Sudan and they are Muslim.  Both he and his twin brother were educated in international schools.  He speaks Arabic and English.

 

Context: I was talking with the informant about traditions and rituals his family has.

 

Item: “Before the actual wedding, there’s this thing where everyone goes to the mosque and watch the Imam (who is kind of like a Muslim priest) bless the couple so the marriage is Islamically legitimate.  Everybody watches that happen so, you’re kind of obligated to go to that.  Then there’s the actual wedding celebration, and the thing is by the wedding celebration you’re already married.  So the wedding celebration is just a big party, and Sudanese weddings are really odd.  They take place in these large tents with lots of fans.  Like, they’re huge; I’ve never been to a Sudanese wedding that had less than 400 people.  The point of it is that you don’t just invite your close friends and family, that’s not gonna fly with Sudanese people.  You gotta invite your friends and family and then their friends and family.  I’ve gone to these weddings where it’s like a third degree connection to the couple.  Which is hella weird, you’ll get people who invite you and say just bring whoever you want.  My mom goes to a lot of these.  You know, females always engage in this kind of stuff so yeah she goes to a lot; my dad really doesn’t give a crap.

 

I usually don’t like to go, cuz they’re so loud.  There’s just really loud music playing the whole time and there’s really not a whole lot of interaction either.  You sit at a table with like six other people and there’s like 50 tables and you get a plate like halfway through the wedding so you’re already starving, and it’s just like a sandwich with some meat in it, like a beef sandwich, falafel or two and dry chips with Pepsi.  It’s never good food, honestly I feel like there’s one company in Sudan who caters all these weddings because it’s way too similar every time.  Um, so the food I’ve never really been a fan of, personally.  And you can’t really talk to people cuz the music is really loud.  The bride and groom sit in the middle of the whole party, most of the time just sitting down while people go  up to them throughout the night to give their congratulations.  These are three-four hour events that usually start at 10 and go until 2AM.  So they’re really late.  At some point during the wedding, the bride and groom are expected to dance and that’s always a fun time.

 

Now there’s this thing, and I’m not sure how many cultures do this, but the makeup that the bride has, like, it makes her a lot more lighter than she actually is.  Her face will be so much whiter than normal.

 

Analysis: My analysis of the makeup aspect is that there’s some kind of inferiority complex or self-hate related to having darker skin; whiter skin is seen as more beautiful.  This is why brides will be a lot more whiter skinned during weddings.  I doubt that anyone would ever acknowledge this if you asked them the reason, but this sort of thing has been seen across cultures and throughout history.  It is especially prevalent in many South Asian weddings.

 

It is interesting that the weddings are so open and that it is open to pretty much the whole town.  I imagine this means that weddings largely dominate the social scene as you could probably be invited to at least one or two per week.  I think the informant’s experience, being a children at most of these, probably tainted his viewpoint and led to his dismissal of weddings in general.  More than likely he was placed at the table with other children or random people and he therefore does not appreciate many of the more rewarding aspects of this type of ceremony.

 

Like many cultures, religion is a dominant and even defining aspect of life for the Sudanese people.  Nothing happens without first making sure that Islamic conditions are met.  Government statistics say that 100% of Sudan is Muslim, which, although it may not be completely true, does highlight the homogeneous nature of the country.  This homogeneity may also contribute to the relative openness of the weddings, as many people have congruent viewpoints, values and expectations as opposed to the massive diversity we find here in the U.S.

Folk Beliefs
Homeopathic
Magic
Protection
Signs

Evil Eye

Informant Bio: Informant is a friend and fellow business major.  He is a junior at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.  His family is from Sudan and they are Muslim.  Both he and his twin brother were educated in international schools.  He speaks Arabic and English.

 

Context: I was talking with the informant about traditions and rituals his family has.

 

Item: “There’s definitely a good amount of people in Sudan who believe in black magic.  I don’t know what the population is but generally, it’s sort of accepted that black magic is real.  It’s an Islamically sanctioned concept; the Qa’ran mentions black magic.  So they believe that there are people who have like, certain powers and they can wish evil upon you.

 

Now it’s not just black magic or evil.  I know my aunt always wanted a son so she went to this man who believed he had magic and he was like ,’ok I’ll make sure you get a son in your next birth’, and she did.  She kept going time after time and she ended up having 5 sons.  So Sudanese people do believe that some people possess a positive type of magic.  Typically, it’s like weird old men who have these powers who live in a secluded part of the city.  People take that really seriously.

 

Now, the people there also believe in the evil eye.  If someone is jealous of you, then that jealousy will cause you to face some sort of unfortunate event.  So if you are successful and people are jealous of you, you might get cancer, get in a car accident or in general face some unfortunate event.  My mom always says there is this word that you can say when someone gives you a compliment that will protect you from the evil eye.  I can’t remember exactly what this saying is, uh, but my mom swears by it”.

 

Analysis: It’s interesting to note that one of the first things the informant says is that magic is an Islamically sanctioned concept.  This acknowledgment shows the importance of their religion and how Islam and the Qa’ran define both spiritual and also secular values.  The belief in the evil eye seems to be an interesting concept.  The phrases one should say for protection from the evil eye upon receiving a compliment may be seen as trying to encourage humbleness and level-headedness.  Those who try to set themselves apart and rub in their wealth or success will be punished by the jealous, so overt and egregious displays of success are most likely frowned upon.  Also, it seems that women have a more prominent role in promoting these folk beliefs and superstitions, which could be due to societal convention or the informant’s personal family.

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