Sunday, December 4, 2011

Getting Married in Malawi

Big money, big money!

Well, not me specifically! But it's definitely marriage season over here and I had occasion to drop in on a wedding reception yesterday afternoon. The sister of the Executive Director of AYISE Marcel got married and pretty much everyone gets invited to the reception. And in part that is because of the tradition of money throwing or "splashing." Change that 500 Kwatcha ($3) into 20s and 50s and get ready to dance!

Basically there is a hall full of guests and the wedding party up front, and for hours, the bride, groom and the rest of the party take turns dancing to their favourite songs. Guests can either wait until a particularly catchy song comes on or until they are called to dance - brother of the groom's friends! uncle twice removed's relatives! Friends of the Bride's sister! Co-workers of the bride's brother! I'm telling you - do not toss away all your cash at once, you never know how many categories you might fall under.

I walked over with my friend Emma, a Swedish volunteer through Peaceworks, bringing with us a handful of small bills. After watching guests dance their way to the front to present gifts, we decided that since the entire reception was in Chichewa so we could never know if "co-workers of the bride's brother" would be called so with Sawa Sawa playing, we danced our way up with others to throw some money around. After each song, a designated "cashier" collects all the money on the floor, another song is put on and it starts all over again! I guess it's a good way to raise some money for the new couple.

You have to love the extremely colour-coordinated weddings over here. Bright pink and silver everywhere! Another big difference in weddings I noticed is that here they have a huge party on the Friday night, and the wedding is early Saturday morning - I'm talking 8am - with the reception happening all afternoon. It was nice to experience, but it must have been one of the hottest days yet so we didn't stay too long.

Also, check out this adorable dik-dik that is living in the yard of my friend Sarah's guesthouse - she just calls him Baby; he's so tame and has a cowlick!

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