Semester at Sea Fall 2006 Voyage banner


Wedding in Cairo


by Tatsuru Kimura


Western style weddings have become common in many part of the world.  A wedding scene that I saw in Cairo looks also somewhat familiar to me because both the groom and the bride wore western clothes.  However, it still contains some factors that are unusual for me. 

I had a chance to see two couples’ weddings successively at the Meridian Hotel in Cairo.  The grooms wore a suit and the bride wore a western-style white dress.  One of the brides wore a scarf on her head but the other bride did not.  There were about fifty guests for each wedding.  All of male guests wore suits but most of the female guests wore traditional dress.  The number of male guests was far greater than female guests.  The processes of the two weddings are almost same.  The wedding couple and guest made a circle, and men including the groom danced again and again.  Men only danced with men.  It looks like only men are welcomed to join the dance circle.  A woman tried to join the circle dance, but a man got rid of her at once.  Although finally some women joined the circle dance, men still dominated the majority of the dance circle.  I guessed that women are not supposed to dance in that circumstance traditionally, because some of the women showed embarrassment for dancing and some of the guests showed their confusion. 

Excluding women from the dance looked like a kind of discrimination because the women wanted to dance.  In Ethnical Consideration in Anthropology and Archaeology, or Relativism and Justice for All, Merrilee H. Salmon insists that female circumcision in Africa is a method for men to keep advantage against women.   Although the degrees of invasion of the basic human rights are significantly different between these two issues, I think I found in the wedding dance an inequality between male and female, which may exist in every society with traditional values.  

The weddings showed social change such as westernization that is represented by the wedding dress.  On the other hand, they also showed traditional values such as excluding women from the dance.  I think that weddings represent each society and their change, thus my observations offer a glimpse into Egypt’s changing cultural dynamics. 

Return to course home  Send me your comments: