Qatar shares with the Gulf countries many inherited customs whoses influence are still evident in Qatari society. One of these customs is weddings. Because Arabs in the Gulf were nomads, they developed a culture based on poetry, song and dance to celebrate such occasions.
Although several differences are noticeable in celebrating weddings from the east to the west, the same social rules prevail in rituals and traditions in weddings.
In Qatar and most of Arab countries, the process of marriage tend to be long. The mother in such societies play an important role in choosing the partner of her son. In case the girl she chooses for him is not from acquaintances, the mother goes to the house of this girl and asks for a cup of water. Once this mother is inside and welcomed by the hosts, she tries to see the girls and know their names.
After this first contact between the two families, the father of the bride and the bridegroom agree about the dowry (Dazza in local language) and the marriage contract (Al-malja). Some people find their second halves through an intermediary women, who knows families. The khatiba, usually an experienced old woman finds the brides after agreeing with the family of the young man. She is paid for her service.
These first meetings are usually without music of any celebrations and the bridewill not see her husband until the day of the wedding.
Once the date of the weeding is fixed, the bridegroom prepares and furnishes his home to welcome his wife. At the house of the bridegroom's family, a single room (Al-Khalla) is furnished with mirrors where the newly married will spend their first night known in Arabic as (Dokhla). Usually the newly married couple spend the first week with the man's family before moving to their home.
At the new couple's house, a room is kept clean with new furniture and vaporized with incenses. The décor of the room is done by girls and women, who have experience in placing every item in its place. The house is also prepared according to local culture to welcome the friends and families of the bride and the bridegroom.
One the engagement is officially announced, the family of the bridegroom take the dazza to the family of the bride. The dazza is made of tissues, embroidered clothes, fragrances and Arabian fragrances. The most important clothes in the dazza is the Al-Kazz, which the bride should wear on her day. It is a silk hand-made garment.
Following the historical path of weddings in Qatar, we found that people used to give their brides pieces of coins either gold or silver in a white tissue that has not been used before.
A henna party for the bride to prepare her for the wedding is celebrated before the marriage. (Henna is a kind of dye that is put on hands and feet for decoration). Only women from the two families are invited. The bride covers herself with green cloth except the hands and legs, which should be decorated with henna. Women and young girls also adorn their hands and legs like the bride and sing and dance while distributing the henna.
At the wedding day, traditional dances are performed by local groups invited by the bridegroom. Two rows of dancers, facing each other, wave sticks or swords as they move to the beat of the drums. Each row sings challenges to the opposite side to the accompaniment of a big drum. They accompany the bridegroom to the house of his bride after the Al-Ishaa prayers (last prayers in the evening).
Men usually wear the traditional costumes and the bridegroom and his father usually wear the Bisht (a costume worn by men in official and private ceremonies).
Once at the house of the bride, the guests are welcomed by a women group singing and dancing. At that time the bridegroom is seated comfortably with his accompanying friends, where he receives congratulations.
The invitees leave the place and the bride is carried in a rug called AlJallouh (women stand in two rows facing each others with the bride in the center). Meanwhile, meals and food is prepared for the guests, usually rice and lamb. In the second day the neighbors and families are invited for the wedding.
In the dawn, the families of the bride and her husband are awakened (this is called Alsabahiya). Before leaving the room (Alkhalla), the bridegroom puts a piece of gold or bank notes under the pillow as a recognition and expression of joy and love for his wife. They are also served the breakfast (loccaly known as Riouk Al-maaris), usually local cakes and Arabian coffee.
At the sun rise, the bridegroom leaves the house to the al-Majlis to meet the family and friends, who come to congratulate him and wish him the best of luck. Later the newly married couple is received at the brides' family for a week before moving to their home.