Monday 20 June 2011

Takaleed al 3amya: Blind traditions

I believe I was fifteen when I first realised something was amiss with some of our customs and traditions.  They seemed incomplete, odd, a mixture of many cultures resplendent with bits and bobs of other traditions from other countries, I always wondered which part was truly Algerian and which part was imported and passed off as a new tradition.

The wide diversity Algeria boasts in terms of its traditions is primarily due to the diversity that lies within the country geographically with influence in the east from Tunisia and Libya, the West from Morocco and in the South from the Sahara, Mali etc, hostorically through many a civilisation and from the influx of new ways from the Mediterranean basin and Europe.

Traditions are a set of customs, ways to connect the present to the past that people of the same group or country adhere to, I will focus on celebrations' rituals.

In a traditional Algerian wedding, most brides would pay homage to the country’s diversity by donning a traditional attire from all regions; a Karakou from Algiers, a Caftan from the West, a Fergani Dress from Constantine, a Chedda from Tlemcen and L’haf from the Sahara etc, most of these dresses are intricately decorated with gold threads, pearls and lace, heavy looking, unnecessarily expensive and unpractical to wear anywhere, the bride would usually add an evening gown followed by the white wedding gown as a finale.  This is done almost chronologically, reflecting the history of Algeria and the influences of the civilisations that went through our land, from Romans to Ottomans to French, with the latter introducing the white gown and making it the final piece in our wedding rituals.

In recent years, we have seen new trends appear, always reflected on wedding rituals and traditions, such as wearing outfits from India (Sari, shelwar) and hair and make up imported from Lebanon and other non identified customs embraced by the women of Algeria and calling them traditions.

Are traditions supposed to evolve and change? Aren’t they supposed to be set by our forefathers for safekeeping and passed on to our descendants? Or are we experiencing the invention of new traditions?  Which are usually propagated for personal, commercial, political, or for national interest but ultimately alter the core customs.

Algerian celebrations such as weddings are in constant change, a new tradition appears every season, from outfits to music to ritual.  Algerian women seem to be under the impression that changing our traditions and moving them closer to the west or to what they perceive as modern will bring modernism and advancement,  our beautiful traditions are being vandalised by bored women of society, who have too much money and too little sense.

Since we’re in England, let us compare; if you look at English weddings, you will notice consistency, the traditions are almost set in stone and the process of the ceremony and the party are respected as they have been passed down from great grand parents to great-grandchildren, tradition is revered and respected.

Our country is a young one with a strong identity but alas a young personality, still trying to find its bearings, I understand until that happens things will keep moving, evolving and changing, but not traditions, our traditions have been passed down from our forefather, and here lies our dilemmas, who are these forefathers? Yes they are the Romans, the Ottomans, the Berbers and the Arabs.  We cannot deny the strong influence a long era of French-Algeria has had on our traditions and our way of life today either, in fact our current traditions were mostly set during the years that followed the occupation and until the independence.

Algerians seem to claim traditions from all over the world and call it their own because they practiced them once.  A nation has to learn to embrace the traditions of its ancestors, embracing new traditions from different cultures cannot be done on a whim of some socialite because she/he thinks it's on trend, if old customs start to gradually be replaced by new and unrelated ones, we will have nothing to transmit to our children and grandchildren.

Now, no longer that shy fifteen yar old gilr, I want to meet the women who started this Algerian wedding tradition which consists of 9 to 12 dress changes (one equally, if not more repulsive than the other) the 4 hours fashion show with tables of people who sit miserably waiting until the bride decides to come out between dress changes, waiting for their cakes before they defect or risk boredom induced psychosis

A traditional (in an unconventional way) Dz-Chick

Title: Blind traditions - as per my father
The white wedding dress became popular after Queen Victoria wore a white gown at her wedding to Albert of Saxe-Coburg


  1. what have you decided for your own weddings?

  2. Decided???
    I haven't found the groom yet! have you got someone for me?

  3. I'm not familiar with the wedding tradition. Does the bride also wear a robe from Kabylia?

  4. "Algerian celebrations such as weddings are in constant change, a new tradition appears every season, from outfits to music to ritual."
    - Tout n'est que mimétisme et concurrence en Algérie. Donc, si le voisin fait telle ou telle chose, je dois faire la même chose + une autre chose pour le dépasser et prouver ma supériorité.

    Just my 2 cents...

  5. Ah yeah I forgot about la robe kabyle!

    Allison: precisely!

  6. When I read this I realise how diverse we Algerians are.
    I have no clue what you are talking about, where I am from the bride simply wears the French white dress on the wedding day.
    She will also take lots of LOCAL traditional dresses with her, and pose in them in separate occasions.
    I view our rich culture as a strength and something to be proud of.
    English weddings are very straight forward and they probably lost a lot of their traditions, whether Saxon, Norman or German .
    Algerian weddings involves lots of protocols and milestones bringing our communities together and helping them to stay in touch and united.

    I really should not be commenting on this girly topic but there you go.

    Anonymous The Great

  7. @Allison: that's like everywhere else lol

  8. Anon The Great, you got any friends worth recommending DZC to/for?

    all this marriage talk is getting her in the mood.

  9. @TDW : Not sure my dear, not sure.
    I don't see that around me here.
    But maybe your perspective is different. :)

  10. Why comparing traditions from Algeria to England ?

    Instead of compare it to... Sweeden , Japan or Argentina ?

    Never compare what is incomparable .lol

  11. ok everywhere else is an overstatement; maybe it's a tiers-mondiste attitude?

    i wanted to not use that term for not wanting to make a sweeping statement but ended up making just that.

    anyway, digressing a little bit, 'here' there is an interesting phenomenon of no interaction with the neighbour or to keep it to a strict minimum, if at all.
    i don't even know what some of my neighbours look like, ok no.10 does have a couple of hotties (well, from afar anyway) who occasionally (for some strange reason) hang their underwear to dry near the window next to the pavement where i walk past.

    so 'here' the norm seems to be towards the other side of the spectrum, also in a pretty extreme fashion. somehow, that cannot be good either.

    just my 7.50 cents :P

  12. Anonymous the Great: you don't know what I am talking about? but didnt you just describe the weddings where you come from exactly how I described them? local? you mean you have more than one local outfit fi skikda? :P

  13. ... DZC: you been to any friend's wedding recently? i don't mean in the last week (although you could have) and any interesting observations from there vis-à-vis this post?
    note the emphasis on friend's wedding rather than any random wedding you were forced to go ;) .

  14. @TDW : I get your point, but I for one don't mind having invisible neighbours.

    You could organize a barbecue and invite your hotties neighbours though; you may even ask them why they hang their underwears the way they do. Just pretend you're doing a sociological research on the topic... and please let us know how it turns out... :)

  15. TDW: :) No, not a friends wedding, I was forced to go to a wedding in Algeria last week and it was torture, I was quite bored, I didn't dance, I didn't eat cake, I didn't like the brides dresses or the people at our table, but I laughed a lot.

  16. I hear you; even the bride looks so ugly with Pablo Picasso on her face! How sad.

    Yes you are right DZ-Chick, it is so sad, how our traditions are being modified, and exchanged for outside of our real culture, for the sake of doing better than the neighbors, than the family in law, and better than the friends.
    For most celebrations, it isn’t about celebrating together anymore, but to show how much better than others we can do. How much money we have. (Or we don’t). The guests are really there to weight things out, and find material for gossip.
    And it if all ugly. Yakhi halla yakhi!
    Ya hassrah 3la wekt bekri, it used to be so simple, Couscous bell ham, and watermelon or green grape, muska, red grapes hamar bou3amar.
    Tcharak ou ghribiya for the coffee, and everybody was happy.
    In the south of Algeria, it was even simpler, the celebrations are so much fun, and the people really came to celebrate.
    De toute facon c’est l’anarchie partout fi bladna, quell dommage pour un si beau pays :(


  17. @Allison: I don't mind invisible neighbours either but here it's almost considered weird if you actually know your neighbours.
    i guess what am trying to say really is that all societies have their strange quirks and from my experience some people have this blanket attitude of dismissing the norms & traditions of where they originally come from as backwards or worse and embracing those of their newfound society as the holy grail of civilisation. that behaviour, i personally think, is slightly retarded lol.

    Regarding the no. 10 ladies, they look mysterious, mean & sexy from a distance and i don't want to break that status quo by actually talking to them :P .

  18. @DZC: sounds lovely :P . have you ever been to a fellow Algerian friend's wedding though?

  19. No, none of my friends are married or at least not through a mascarade of a the new traditional Algerian wedding!

    Been to my sisters wedding! does that qualify?

  20. i guess so ... you must have been forced to go that hahaha. just joking ;) .

    how was it?

  21. My sisters wedding is special to me of course :) it was a nice party, she wore a lot of dresses which was lengthy and annoying but in her defence she looked stunning and all her outfits were very elegant and tasteful. a little biased of course :)

  22. sweeeeeeeeeeets.

    where's our friend ML? i'm missing his condescending remarks :P .

  23. @TDW : Are you in Japan?

    "i guess what am trying to say really is that all societies have their strange quirks and from my experience some people have this blanket attitude of dismissing the norms & traditions of where they originally come from as backwards or worse and embracing those of their newfound society as the holy grail of civilisation. that behaviour, i personally think, is slightly retarded lol."
    - I hear yea, but one could also make the same comment the other way round : ...finding norms&traditions of their own country as the holy graal of civilization and dismissing those of their newfound society.

    We shouldn't compare apples to oranges for sure, but then we're human and "nous avons tous des manques et des trop pleins".

    Plus the fact that you were born and/or raised in a country doesn't mean you have to agree with everything that comes from it. There's nothing wrong in being different. JMHO

  24. yeah i mean going extreme in either way is not particularly good; we're better off faisant la part des choses and taking the best of both.

    and btw am not in Japan (am in the UK), why that question, if i may?

  25. Definitively agree.

    Re Japan - 'cause I know relationships there are "peculiar". For some reason, I thought you were living outside UK.
    Never mind... :)

  26. i find it strange that you can live in the same place for years and not know your neighbour. or is it me?

    i have to say i do know the 4-legged neighbour on the right ... his biped slave lets him out every night so he can take a dump in the garden any time between 22:30 to 01:00 and then has to plead with him so he will get back in.

    ah and lol @ stereotype re: Japanese culture

  27. "ah and lol @ stereotype re: Japanese culture"
    - was expecting that one. Would have been disppointed otherwise.

    "i find it strange that you can live in the same place for years and not know your neighbour. or is it me?"
    - Yeah, weird things happen everywhere...

    "i have to say i do know the 4-legged neighbour on the right ... his biped slave lets him out every night so he can take a dump in the garden any time between 22:30 to 01:00 and then has to plead with him so he will get back in."
    - LOL!

  28. @Allison: when are you going to tell us some funny going ons in your neck of the woods? :P

    @DZC: i thought you were gonna be back with a bang ... disappointing so far :P

  29. Sounds like they're becoming more like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, the kind Anonymous would have in his Douar :)
    I for one would like them introducing the Hen Night and Stag Do !
    Who's up for supplying the Hen night outfits? :)

  30. TDW: Bare with me...have a lot to say, not enough time to write, busy at work...are you expecting something funny and light or more on the serious side?

    @Malek: I am up for that! A good business idea that would work in Algeria in about a 100 years

  31. don't mind me, take your time; i know you will come up with something good ;-)

    i've had a prise de conscience over the weekend ... basically i need to tone down the amount of shit that emanates from my gob, and here is a good place as any other to start.

  32. @TDW
    Me to suggest DZC for friends? to tell you the truth I don't think anyone I know can handle her, she is smart, sophisticated and has a blooming career :)
    I know barely very few who come from her background, however looser types like some male commneters here unfortunately.

    Anyways, a bit buzy these days so talk to you in a few weeks

    Sorry I can't help here :)


  33. take it easy and take care chriki :)

    oh well DZC i tried ...

  34. @TDW: Tried indeed lol

    @ATO and the Great: You have been able to recognise greatness, so I will dub you ATO the GREAT.

  35. DZC i think you need to change your social circle(s) perhaps

  36. calm down babes. ok once again maybe my brashness in talking shit prevailed, i guess i should have said : expand your social circle.

    why? to make it more likely to meet someone with plus d'affinités with you. from my recollection of some hmmhmm post ages ago, you claimed the people you met were nowhere near the sort you would consider getting down to business with.

    what do you think?

  37. The people I met where not really through my social circles, only frenemies and evil samaritans.

    I think you might be right, but it's not for me, my man will come to me when I am good and ready to meet him...which is NOW!

    Take it you're single Dawood?

  38. yeah but when/where/how is he going to meet you? you need to wake up from the dream.

    yeah i am, why? do i talk like one?

  39. Yeah you talk like one and I know you are since you were coming on to Haniya

    Waiting for my prince charming to come and wake me up from my dream with a kiss!

  40. this is the internets though. who knows what i really am :P ?

    you know what they say, you have to kiss a few frogs to find out which one of them is the real prince.

  41. I found that celibacy works better and I don't care for frogs...But my prince has finally showed up :)up :)

  42. oh really? in the last hour? lol

  43. tell us more and don't get ahead of yourself ;) .

  44. has he woken you up yet?

  45. He is working on resuscitating me!

  46. hope he doesn't give you the electric shock treatment :p

  47. anyway, going back to my singularity, you got anyone in mind for me? :P

  48. I am very good at match making actually, one couple got married and both never spoke to me again and another are going out still but are still my friends :)

    I will have a think! what are your criterias?

  49. lol @ never spoke to you again. why is that?

    hmm let me have a think about the criteria ;) .

  50. The girl told the boy to never speak to me again because after I introduced them I was no longer needed and she obv didnt want me around. oh well, loose some...loose some!

  51. that's just weird and typical at the same time.

    anyway, what will be your pitch to sell me?

  52. I would sell you as the delightful Dawood with a good sense of humour, weird taste in music, good grammar and as a loyal reader!

    Under 30, from Mauritius and I believe him to be cute but a little on the pervy side ;) (Nothing wrong with that obv)

  53. hahahaha good stuff ;) .

  54. speaking of weddings, DZC do you know if they still have the blood stain thingie still on the wedding day? :) you know the viriginity proof, never seen it but used to hear about it

  55. I am sure that it is in more rural areas!

  56. I'll ask ATO then :)

  57. how about a kabyle dress in the weddings??

  58. Yeah someone else mentioned La robe Kabyle as well, I don't know how I forgot it, some of them look beautiful... TO WORK THE FIELDS IN!


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