Harusi means marriage in Kiswahili and it’s something that goes beyond imagination. It’s a social event that involves the entire village and community. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Christian or a Muslim marriage: families want it to be unforgettable.
A lot of money is spent to organize it and invitations cover a huge number of relatives, friends and neighbors. But let’s start from the beginning.
When a man intends to marry, it’s compulsory that he asks officially to the girl’s family a sort of permission. This is a very formal occasion: he goes with his parents and other members of his family to the girl’s house in order to ask for her hand. And he has a hard time. He may be asked for presents or money or simply to take care of the girl, anyway he must take seriously his proposal: divorce is a very rare occasion. The meeting puts the two families in connection forever with a very solid reletionship.
In the exact moment in which the lady’s family accepts, a nuclear reaction starts. The wedding must be organized in details, everything has to be perfect and, above all, outstanding.
The day of the ceremony is preceded by another celebration day, the send off, in which bride and groom greet their former state and prepare themselves to be married. The bride spends this time with her most intimate friends and the party lasts hours, if not the whole day, and everyone is dressed up for the occasion.
The wedding day is another full day of celebrations, with dances and the offering of the presents, even if many people already have donated money to help the couple deal with the titanic expenses.
The girl prepares herself taking care of every detail: the majestic dress, the make up, the hairstyle and, if muslim, the decorations on arms, hands and feet. They are incredible: made with black henna and very thin brushes, they are a real work of art. The patterns are floreal and every detail is perfect.
After the ceremony, bride and groom go to their home and start to live together, but the day after they go back to the bride’s family in order to show their happiness.
I think it’s very fascinating. Every time I see a wedding in Tanzania, I stop: it’s not unusual to meet a procession of cars on the streets on Saturday, while the band plays cheerful music in an open pick-up. I look, I smile, I feel good.