Wahida Zalmai was born in Afghanistan and arrived in London in 1993. She talks about going to weddings in London where Afghan people wear more traditional clothes than are worn at weddings in Kabul.
Listen to Wahida (in Dari, mp3, 912kb)
Read transcript in Dari (pdf, 18kb)
'I attend many wedding ceremonies here and, from what I have seen, it can be said that many changes have taken place.
'For example in terms of dresses, when we were in Afghanistan, in Kabul or in the villages, it was not the norm to wear traditional dresses, what we call Afghan dresses, at the time of the marriage contract. A few people used to wear those dresses, in villages and towns people used to wear those sort of dresses; however in the cities people did not wear those dresses. They normally wore green dresses. Nowadays I can see that, in the majority of wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom wear Afghan dresses.
'In this way they try to keep the memories of home alive. They try to remember home and keep a sign of it in their present life. They always think about home and that is why they wear traditional dresses. This is one of the changes.
'In addition to that you can see some other changes: things which gradually have been adopted from other cultures. For example, in the past when a bride and groom appeared, they used to be escorted with bunches of flowers around them, brought by the participants, and a Quran taken over their head, and they walked towards the place where they were supposed to sit. This was one of our traditions.
'However, these days in some of the weddings I see that the bride and groom walk while there are lighted candles around them, and sometimes also there are some fireworks. We never had such a thing in our culture. We always used to bring flowers with us and put flowers around the neck of the bride or the groom. The bride and groom were not escorted with lighted candles or fireworks. I think this is a form of imitation of other cultures.
'Also, sometimes in the ceremony of a marriage contract, I see some people set a cloth on the ground. We never had such a thing in Afghanistan. We only set what is called a contract table, which four elders sit around and finalise the marriage contract. This idea of a cloth instead of a table is taken from Iranian culture. Well!
'Despite all of these imitations and changes, in general these ceremonies are conducted in the manner we used to do in our country.'
Copyright Evelyn Oldfield Unit