Assyrian rituals consist of many different types of elements that have shaped today’s modern rituals for the past 3,000 years. An Assyrian Wedding traditionally lasted a week and consisted of different rituals for each day. Today, weddings in the Assyrian homeland usually last for 2 to 3 days while Assyrian weddings in the diaspora go for 1 or 2 days.
The Blanket Ritual
A week before the Marriage all the women of theneighbourhood and the women in the family go to house of the bride and make her a very big honeymoon blanket. Everybody had to make sure they sewed a bit of that blanket. So the needle would be passed from one woman to the other and this way all the women sewed a bit. The younger women would dance around it and the older women would sing and do the dabke. During the party food and sweets are served, and the party ends when the blanket was done. This ritual is mostly observed by Assyrians in Syria.
The Washing of the Groom
Also referred to as khyapta d’khitna or zyapta d’khitna. Before the wedding all the men in the neighbourhood and the men who are related to the groom go to his house and they cut his hair and shave his face. The groom’s male relatives give a him a good scrubbing from head to toe, cleaning him of evilness. A young boy is usually bathed first, typically by his mother or aunts, then the groom takes a shower or bath afterwards.
A tradition symbolic of the bride leaving the home of her parents. Usually the bride is in her home taking pictures with family and the groom’s family visits to take her out of the home and to the church. While in the house, the women sing tradition lilyaneh and dola and zurna is played as they dance. Before the bride leaves the house, the groom’s family makes an offering, usually cash, to the bride’s family and upon acceptance, they head to the church.
Is the wedding tradition where the bride and groom are blessed by a priest in a church. The burakha traditionally
lasted about four hours, but more recently the event goes for about one hour. Pins in the shape of two crosses are usually placed on the groom’s back. There are some details during the ceremony that differ from village to village. The Assyrians of the village of Baz are known to have someone poke the groom with a needle to ward off any evil spirits while Assyrian from the village of Tyari make noise with the cutting motion of scissors to ward off evil spirits.
At the end of the burakha as the bride and groom are coming out of the church, dola and zorna is played while rice, candies, and coins are thrown at the bride and groom and people take part in traditional Assyrian dances.
Henna is mud-like material that is prepared on the day before the wedding. On the wedding night, in the old days all the ladies would gather at the house of the bride (but nowadays it’s mixed, also male relatives and family friends are invited.) A bowl is filled with henna. Henna is celebrated differently throughout the Assyrian community. In some areas, whoever holds the bowl with the henna will dance with it around the others. The groom and bride put in the bowl their little finger and their little finger will be wrapped and connected to each other by a ribbon. In other areas, everyone is given a turn to wrap their finger with henna, and after everyone, the person that is getting henna on their hand starts the chant of praise for the future couple, as everyone else follows along.