Tuesday, 17 April 2012
The women mill around dressed in their best, donned with enough gold to destabilise the world economy and enough silk to set the house on fire, tunes from Naima Dziriya blaring from an old CD player in the corner, it is loud, so very loud. The women screech louder to be heard, all smiles and laughter and admiration for eachothers attires and jewellery.
It’s Wednesday, the night of the Henna, a few days before the wedding, all the women gather around at the bride’s house, the Algerian version of the Hen night.
The bride walks in one of the many dresses she purchased for the wedding, her hair so intricately styled it looks untouchable, make up looks slightly less extravagant to the naked eye but on close inspection looks about 10 mms deep, you can actually smell it.
The bride walks in escorted by two young girls holding two long twisted candles, the women ululate incessantly; she sits on a throne of red velvet cushions embroided with golden threads.
An elderly relative dressed in a serwal Chelka (traditional trousers-skirt I guess) and a silk scarf around her hair is mixing a bowl of henna, she adds an egg, some rose water and sings a Henna lullaby to commemorate the ritual, a dollop of the mixture is put in the middle of the right palm and spread in a small circle, then a silk mitt is used to cover the hand. More ululations explode in the air, a feel of bliss and romance fills the ether and the bride’s mother sheds a tear, traditionally because her daughter is leaving the family home, but everybody knows it’s the lullaby, so damn sentimental.
After the bride, it’s the bride’s younger sister to have henna applied to her hand and then every other single girl present, all hoping to follow suit and get married before her one day.
Mint tea is served accompanied with one of the hundreds of almond cake variety there is and everybody is on a sugar high. Music gets louder, everybody starts showing off their best dance moves they learnt in the belly dance classes they’ve been taking or copied from the latest Assala* music video.
The aftermath; no hangovers, just a load of makeup to remove, physical damage is minimal if you don’t count the ear drum perforation and the odd injury sustained through the customary evil eye.
Would have been good to get a bit drunk!
A night wasted of my life I’ll never get back!
I am super jealous happy!
Meanwhile, in London, about half a dozen girls go out to town to celebrate Sally’s hen party, the hen posse are dressed in coordinated dresses, with legs that start here (around my breasts) , and array of perfumes, fake tans and make up to cause a sense-seizure, they’re loud, so very loud.
As they enter the restaurant gaggling, in their coordinated pink sashes “brides maids” and the bride’s L plate, veil and flashing tiara, all the punters stare and think “oh no…it’s about to get loud in here”.
Dinner and drinks are served; and out comes the penis shaped straws and an a giant inflatable one that sits next to the bride whilst all the girls pose for pictures with the centre piece, loud and incessant laughter fills the place, within 2 hours, everybody is sufficiently drunk and collectively the girls hold enough alcohol to set the house on fire. The mother of the bride leaves after dinner and the girls loose their inhibitions – yes only now!
To the relief of the punters and waiters, dinner is finished and the girls move on to the next venue, a night club, their tacky limousine awaits and they all get in without showing too much cleavage or knickers. The pink posse enter the bar, the lonely boys at the bar rejoice at the prospect of an easy pull with blondie no. 2 or 5 whichever…
They dance around the club grinding against every single guy available, as if the pink sash is their license to behave like total tarts with no judgment passed; they’re just here for their friends’ hen party after all! Give me one of those sashes I tell ya!!
A few gallons of novelty cocktails and questionable shots later (drunk through the penis shaped straws naturally)…TROUBLE! A few scenarios go like this:
One passes out in the club toilet and has to be rescued by the “mother” hen, this might be the bride’s actual mother but we already decided she sensibly and thankfully (who wants to go clubbing with their mother anyway) left straight after dinner, so she’ll probably be rescued by the toilet attendant who’ll most probably charge her the costmary £1 because she had to use a splash of her perfume to wake her up.
One or two might go home with someone and wake up somewhere dubious, but mostly the girls will stumble out drunk onto the street to hail a cab, the limousine company probably refused to hire out for afters for obvious reasons…cab drivers won’t want to take them because they’re too drunk and disorderly and don’t want to risk the puke in their cabs.
The aftermath, the group is dispersed, major hangovers, headaches, losses occurred include handbag, oyster card, jewellery, phone and with any luck the flashing tiara.
Should have gone to a spa and traditional English tea like normal people.
Had a brill time!
How much did it actually cost?
Oh my head hurts!
Having experienced both celebrations (the latter only from afar), not passing any judgment, only commenting on the cultural differences of the celebration.
Hoping to experience an amalgamation of this celebratory event between the Algerian and the British traditions.
Our Diaspora here will perhaps create a halfway style of this cultural phenomenon that is fun, fabulous and classy, keeping the best of both worlds. No bingo games allowed.
Dz-chick…sending hints to her soon-to-be-bride pal! I am not wearing pink velour!
* Lebanese singer
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