Oh, my sweet, wonderful, beautiful Miss Igorota sisters! How Khmer Iggy and I have missed all of you! I’ve barely been able to blog at all during the past weeks so I’m excited to jump back in.
The whole neighborhood of Tuol Sangke woke up before sunrise today thanks to the loud music coming from our neighbor. The music, coupled with canned chanting of the monks, signaled that a wedding was to take place in the neighborhood. Reluctantly, I got out of the bed complaining about loss of precious beauty sleep with the music reverberating everywhere at an unholy hour. When I went to the kitchen I found my dear husband already making me my chocolate drink.
I went outside, just before 6.30am, to walk the dog and, lo and behold -- there were already vehicles rolling in our streets and carrying wedding guests. Khmer Iggy volunteered to walk the dog with me, and she confessed, she had never seen so many Land Cruisers and Lexus cars in one place before!
Here's Khmer Iggy standing in front of the lavishly decorated entrance to the tent-covered reception area. The tent covered the entire block where we live. Inside the tent were rows and rows of tables and chairs and powerful loudspeakers broadcasting music and the entire ceremony throughout the neighborhood.
A traditional Khmer wedding starts with a procession led by the groom heading towards the bride's house to present gifts (dowry). The groom and his gift-toting entourage walk in a procession to the bride's house. Elders say that the groom's eagerness to marry is reflected in the distance he is willing to walk. Unlike in Philippine weddings, in a Khmer wedding, guests don’t bring the gifts at all. Even the gifts that they carry during the procession are provided by the groom to represent a part of the dowry. The gifts come in twos (pairs) to represent the couple.
Then the bride and her family meet the groom and his entourage at the especially decorated doorway where the bride offers a lei to the groom, and vice versa. After the obligatory photo-shoot for a few minutes, they then enter the house together for a day-long ceremony with the whole proceedings being broadcast over a loudspeaker and interspersed with traditional Khmer wedding music, a live salapa (sitcom) about married life, and canned chanting. A lavish reception follows with dancing that lasts all night long.
Iggy, the bride and groom and the bride's parents.
Although not invited, Miss Igorota was happy to get a glimpse of a traditional Khmer wedding, and managed to sneak in a few shots paparazzi-style. Khmer Iggy couldn't help but admire the fabulously dressed women all prettily made up at silly-o'clock in the morning.
Miss Iggy thinks that times are hard, but we still see people taking the marriage plunge. This is definitely love, and the power of love is even stronger than the economic crunch! One of my Khmer friends told me that he's getting married later this year, and that's welcome news for us and Miss Iggy, as we'll be able to see a Khmer wedding in its entirety.