Saturday, September 5, 2009

Swaziland Wedding

This morning I went to a wedding in Mbabane. A young woman from Zambia who has been working for Children's Cup in Swaziland married a young man from Zimbabwe. The woman, Zinty is such a joyful, energetic, god-filled young woman. Both she and her new husband, Lungile have tremendous musical talent and write much of the praise and worship music that is sung on Sunday mornings at Healing Place Church.

This was a "western" wedding, not a traditional one, however, there were bits and pieces of their culture that were added to the wedding making it very special. It was a beautiful wedding. Five pastors participated in the service at one time or another.

The first clue that this was a wedding in Africa was when I arrived at the church a minute or two late, there was almost no one there. The bride finally arrived about 9:45 and the wedding started shortly thereafter. (The wedding was supposed to start at 9:00.) As with most special ceremonies in Swaziland, they have a Master of Ceremony to let the audience know what is going to happen next. Paper, ink and copy machines cost a lot of money, so there is generally a MC instead of paper programs. It also allows for those last minute changes. The MC was Zinty's brother. He introduced the wedding party one at a time and they danced in the door and down the isle. (see first picture below.) Dancing is always included in African ceremonies. When the groom danced down the isle, he would stop and shake people's hands. What surprised me was when Zinty walked down the isle on the arm of her father, they walked very, very solemnly and slowly.

After answering the question of who gives the bridge to be given in marriage, the ceremony started with praise and worship followed by the official vows and exchanging of the rings. This was followed by their individual vows written for each other. It was very sweet. Then they had a blessing, and an introduction as husband and wife followed by washing of each other's' feet. It was one thing to watch Lungile carefully and thoroughly wash Zinty's feet, but then she kneeled down in her beautiful white wedding dress and washed his feet as well. This was done to stress the sacrifice that both people must do for the other during marriage and they must always have love and a servant's heart towards each other.

Several people got up and gave testimonies similar to the toasts we do at wedding receptions. This was followed by the two of them receiving communion. And then the mother of the bride came up so they could cut the cake. She explained the meaning of this ritual and how one was to feed the other out of love and respect. It was very moving. I couldn't help but think how different and more meaningful this little ritual was compared to what it has become at most weddings in the US - a competition to see who could cram the most cake in the other person's mouth.

The ceremony finally ended almost two hours after it started.

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