Part of the Muslim religion is the 30-day period of fasting, called Ramadan. A time for reflection, for being closer to God, for self discipline, for thinking of people who are less fortunate than you are and many more things.
It’s not the easiest time of year for Muslims, since the Ramadan comes with a lot of traditions and restrictions, is followed by a huge celebration and is a costly affair.
With the Ramadan nearing the atmosphere slowly started to change. People started to get a bit nervous lately. Some out of fear for the hard times, others because of the money involved.
Times have been tough for many a Malian over the past year. Tourism – an important source of income for the country – has been low.
Another entirely different energy was very present also lately: the energy of happy couples and wedding celebrations.
In Mali Thursdays and Sundays are the days to get married. Over the past few weeks the town was bustling on those days. Over 60 weddings per day were no exception…
So, why do so many people get married this time of year, you might wonder.
Well, the hot season is not really a pleasant time of year, it even being too hot to enjoy your wedding celebration (and the time after), I was explained.
And during the Ramadan you’re not really allowed to party. Another very valid reason.
‘But why not wait till after the Ramadan?’, I asked. What’s the fun of getting married and having to start fasting shortly after?
‘Well, you know’, Amadou started explaining ‘it’s a lot of work for the women in a family to prepare all the meals during the Ramadan, and it’s hard for them too, since they are also fasting, so an extra woman who helps with that is always very welcome.’ The day of the wedding the woman moves from her own family to the family court of her husband, becoming an instant member of his family, fulfilling her role in it. In terms of the Ramadan: being part of the cooking team.
Funny enough nobody is talking about the gap she leaves in her own family. Hopefully for her mother, she has a brother who gets married too. Or maybe not, since that would mean two wedding ceremonies with all costs involved…
‘And’, Amadou mentioned with a slight grin ‘men are not allowed to touch women during the Ramadan, except for their own wife(s). But, of course that’s not the reason of getting married before…’ he quickly added.
I started laughing and it didn’t take Amadou very long to join me.
Of course the last will never be given as the official reason for getting married right before the Ramadan, but I’m pretty sure it’s on the minds of many young Muslims. Since yes, they are very human too, and not touching your girl/boy friend for an entire month might add some extra challenges to the already challenging time of year. Worst case even resulting in breaching the rules of the Ramadan, burdening the couple involved with feelings of guilt. And if they are honest about it they’ll have to make up for this ‘lost day’ before next year’s Ramadan.
Getting married before not only frees you of that challenge, God personally allows you to make love to your newlywed wife/husband. And the boy’s mother will for sure not have too many objections. That extra pair of hands will come in handy 🙂