Saturday, 24 November 2007

MY SISTER’S WEDDING: Wonders of Azerbaijani National Weddings (Part III)

Wedding Ceremony

Today, the wedding ceremony in Azerbaijan is organized in a huge building called “shadlig sarayi” (palace of happiness) which may fit three of four hundreds of guests. I must mention that our old weddings, took place in a special tent, called “Palatka”. It was a large tent where large tables and chairs were set for all guests. There was also a special place for musicians and a singer. Today, this tradition is preserved in some regions of Azerbaijan.

The number of guests can vary, mainly depending on financial conditions of the parents and how much they have friends, relatives, etc. Sometimes if the number of relatives from both sides is very big, then two separate weddings are arranged. The first one is arranged for the relatives of the bride and the second for the relatives of the groom, approximately 250-300 persons in each. Today the number of unique weddings increases, because the prices are very high and most young people would like to wear wedding dress only once. After a long discussions, both of our families agreed to make the wedding together, with approximately three hundred persons.

Before going to the wedding place, in the accompany of musicians, the groom together with his close relatives come to the house of the bride to take her to the “shadlig sarayi”. When they arrive to the house, the first step is to tide a red silken belt around the wedding dress of the bride. It should be done either by the brother of other close male relative of the groom. Red belt symbolizes the purity of the bride. As our groom did not have a brother, this responsible duty was handled to his cousin. The person who do this belt tiding, receive a present from the bride’s side. So, his cousin got a very nice skirt which by the way was chosen by me. Then, my parents gave their blessings to their daughter, in other words gave their recommendations on how to become a good wife and mother in her future family. Then my father took her by the hand and they circled around the lit lamp three times. It symbolizes the eternal fire which brings the happiness to the family. During this ceremony, most of bride’s family, including the bride, may cry. It is accepted as normal and we were not an exception. Because it is always a bit sad when a member of your family leaves you and starts the independent life. The bride and groom leave the house in the accompany of a traditional song called “vagzali”. So, after this ceremony, our bride and groom headed to the wedding place in luxurious white Chrysler, although there were times when the bride was brought to the wedding place in a horse coach.

Till very recent times, our national weddings traditionally were conducted by a person called “tamada”. He controlled the wedding and arranged the sequence of guests who were going to say a toast in the wedding. The speech of tamada was occasionally accompanied with lyrical poems, which transferred the atmosphere of the wedding to sad notes. But today, tamadas are not widely used, as people think that it takes more time for the talk. They want to hear music and have fun rather than making long speeches. Also, another specific parts of our weddings was “shabash”. It was the money which was thrown above the dancing guests in dancing floor. After the end of the dance, this money was collected and presented to the families of the couple. Today instead of it, the guests coming into wedding gives money gift as a present so that new couple could arrange the expenditure of it for themselves.

It can be interesting for you to know that there was a time in Azerbaijan when the newlyweds could not dance in their weddings. It would not be accepted by the society. Although, we live in modern society, there still some old and middle aged people who still do not like when the bride and groom dance a lot in weddings. But today modern couples dance as much as they want, referring to the point that the rules are established to break them. In our wedding, the newlyweds danced as much as they wanted, and actively invited other guests to dance with them. It should be so, as it was their day. We had a great wedding that I will never forget.

After the end of the wedding, on arrival to the new house, the bride has to break a saucer which means that she will be the leader of the family. Although in most Azeri families, it is not always the case that is men remain as a leader of the family.

In the end, I just want to say that no matter our tradition is, the main goal is to achieve the eternal happiness and peace with the one you have chosen to live your life with.

Aynura Alakbarova,
Master student of Azerbaijan University of Languages


hanape said...

Hi there,
My parents are originally from Azerbaijan. I'm getting married in a couple of months, and I really want to surprise my parents with the Vagzali tune at my wedding. I heard there is a more modern version of the song. Can you please direct as to where I can download the song from, or even buy it. I'm from Canada, and unfortunately, I don't have access to any Azerbaijanian music.
Thank you lots!

Azerbaijan - a part of Europe said...

To be true, I don’t know the most updated version but in the following links you can download two versions of vagzali freely,, or

I hope i could help and by the way, wish you happines in your future family,

Term papers said...

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Anonymous said...

breaking a saucer does not mean that she will be the leader, it means she is strong and healthy enough to be wife.

Anonymous said...

Hi, thanks for your post about your sister's wedding. We are going next week to Baku for the wedding of a very good friend, it is our first time there and I am even invited to the khina yakhdi. Could please tell me what should I bring as a gift and how the girls dress for this ceremony?
And what about the wedding presents, what is common in Azerbaijan? Thanks a lot form germany

Anonymous said...

you have some mistakes for ex. it is not palatka but "chadir"