Libya is a country that is very diverse in culture. Even though we are Libyans by nationality, our country is rich in history and culture. There are Tuaregs, Imazighen, Tabu, and Arabs. The western mountain in Libya is the location of the Amazigh community. You will find several cities where people speak the language, but there are some differences.
Some may not know, but I am an Amazighen by ethnicity. Both of my parents are, which makes me, as they say, a pure Amazigh. I am originally from a town called Al-Kalaa which means the castle. People speak the language, yet, it differs from town to town. My parents understand the language but don’t use it a lot. Thus, I grew up learning the basics but I don’t speak it fluently since we don’t practice it at home.
I love the diversity in my background, and I am so proud of my Riffian (Amazigh) origins. The beauty of its culture draws me closer to it and makes me want to know more stories about it. As we get older, I notice that we get back to the beauty within our culture and tradition. Weddings are not an exception. They share so many similarities, but at the same time, the differences are what make them unique.
There is something magical about traditional weddings. Maybe the clothes, songs or even the food. Marriages usually last for seven days. They consist of many things until the big day. Sadly, it is not very common now to do the entire Libyan wedding from scratch. So, I decided to ask my grandmother about the Amazighian wedding since she has been to so many. She was so excited and happy when I asked her to tell me more because I didn’t know every detail.
Details From My Family’s Memories
The first day is when the groom goes over to the bride, deciding on the wedding day and officially starting the seven days of preparation and the hustle. After they leave, men must go and collect wood. It takes them the whole day to do so because they contain significant amounts. On the following day, women use the managed wood to prepare traditional bread made in clay ovens. They also make a stew to have it for dinner with the bread.
The third day is called the groom’s henna. Yes, you read this correctly! The groom’s friends should bring Henna leaves in small napkins, so the groom’s mother kneads them. After that, the groom and his friends must put henna on their pinky fingers. In the evening, men should mix what we call Bseesa. It is a healthy mix of grains, nuts, and sometimes the date is added. We still eat it until now. As part of the tradition, grandmothers sing while men are mixing.
Jedo Mohammed in The Picture
According to the tradition, the groom’s family must take groceries, a sheep, and “Goffa,” or as The Amazigh people call it Ater. It is a big piece of white sheets filled with gifts from the groom’s family to the bride’s. They put makeup kit, high heels, the best type of Henna leaves; you name it. They apply henna to her hands and feet.
As part of the tradition, the bride must escape to one of her friend’s houses so they wouldn’t find her when the groom’s family brings the Goffa. They must go and get her from her friend’s house so the woman carrying the Goffa on her head can finally put it down. Then the bride must sit seven times on it. At night, the bride must wear a traditional pink suit for the Henna night and sit on a wool blanket. Her face should be covered while applying henna to her hands and feet.
My Mother in The Pink Attair
On the wedding day, which is the last day, in some cases, the groom’s family comes over to the bride’s house to apply henna again, but they don’t do it anymore. Before, the bride wore the Imazighen suit, made only for brides. It has accessories hanging on it. The fabric is a little different. The bride’s hair should be braided. Before, her mother must sip olive oil above her daughter’s head. My grandmother doesn’t know why they did it. However, brides now wear dresses, but they wear the traditional suit after a week of being married.
In conclusion, the pictures you are looking at in the article are from my mom’s and uncle’s weddings. They captured every detail and laughter, and each photo has its own story and memory. Although it has been years now, watching these pictures with my family brought back beautiful memories. My aunts and mom laughed when they remembered something about one of the pictures. No matter how old we get or how far we reach, we always get back to our roots. If you have doubts, reach out to your grandparents and ask them. Here I am, 23 years later, I am digging deeper into my country’s history, searching for answers. I encourage you to do it, too.