Sana’a – Dressed in traditional white and gold garb, and holding raised swords, nine Yemenis danced in unison during what has become an increasingly common occurrence: a mass wedding.
Yemen is reeling from a severe humanitarian crisis that has pushed millions to the brink of starvation in the seven-year conflict that has divided the country and devastated the economy.
Given the high cost of weddings for many prospective couples, some choose to rely on the support of charities to help organize the wedding, while others choose to have joint weddings, splitting the cost of the ceremony.
Kanaan Jamil is among nine men who celebrate their wedding through dance and music, while the brides celebrate separately at home, and he says, “Group weddings are a unique collective solution that brings joy and pleasure to more than one family and home at the same time. The good charity is setting up group marriage projects in all directorates of the capital, Aden, and we hope that our turn will come and we will catch the train.”
Grateful for the efforts of those in charge of group marriage projects, Umm Yasser says: “It is a strengthening and collective chastity that benefits the family and society, and the great reward for those in charge understandthe reason for determining the basic building block for building a family, and we hope to strengthen these projects, especially in areas where poverty is widespread.”
One of the party’s organizers, Sheikh Hani Mohammed Rokn, explained that mass weddings have become common.
He said, “In view of the difficult circumstances that the country and the nation are experiencing these days, the costs are high and high, weddings and others, but the collective wedding reduces costs and facilitates everything.”
Taha Ibrahim, who owns a center for providing wedding services and events, pointed out that many people attend mass weddings.
He said: “Now young people like the idea of a group wedding because it reduces expenses, and the groom has a small part of the expenses that he does not bear all.”
In the past, the groom spent everything he owned and sometimes had to borrow money for it, but things changed with the severe economic crisis.
The customs of the wedding in Sana’a for the men are two days or one day, so the street or the lane of the groom is decorated, where the guests attend the wedding from noon, lunch and then dinner in one of the halls for occasions, and in the evening they eat qat and dance to the tunes of songs, bells, folk songs and the flute in some families.
The San’ani wedding is held for women in their own hall. The rituals continue for them for a whole week as it starts with the day of the bath and then the party where the bride is carved and rests on that day in preparation for her going to her husband’s house on the night of the wedding, and during the wedding sessions, cakes, sweets, soft drinks and tea, and the bride wears Dresses every day different from the previous day.
But these habits have changed with the high prices that most Yemenis can no longer afford.
Umm Samer says: “We are unable to marry off our children because of the lack of ingenuity and the exaggeration of dowry. Group marriage projects protect men from crime and girls from debauchery.”
Speaking bluntly of the delay in offering her a groom, who is now in her forties, Sabria says, “I’m a loner and I’ve missed the train of marriage, as I’m over 45 years old, and the reason for girls’ promiscuity is due to several reasons, the most important of which is the exaggeration in dowry and family problems known to parents, in addition to the prevention of marriage The girl from outside the family, as well as the complicated and impossible conditions and costs of marriage, and I advise parents not to stand in the way of their daughters by exaggerating the conditions.”
She adds that what happens by parents of high dowries and excessive costs, and the consequences of marriage in expensive halls and bedrooms, gold in millions of riyals, backbreaking wills and other incompetent expenses, collide with the financial conditions of young people today.
She concludes, “The reason for the spinsterhood of Yemeni women is also that some young men are forced to migrate abroad to raise money for marriage, so that their lives are wasted in exile in vain, so that girls wait for their dreams to come true.”
Social researchers in Yemen believe that group marriage is a radical solution and a catalyst that directly contributes seriously to building a strengthened and chaste society, and develops radical collective solutions to the most important and serious problems of young men and women, and collective bring joy to more than one home at the same time. Society and the state go along with it, support it, encourage it and remove family obstacles from its path.
Social specialist Marwa Ahmed believes that the escalation of mass weddings is a viable solution to alleviate the spinsterhood phenomenon the country is witnessing, especially in light of the war that has killed tens of thousands of young people over the course of two years.
She pointed out that Yemen ranks ninth in the Arab world in the phenomenon of spinsterhood, according to a study conducted by “Huna Amsterdam” Radio in 2021.
She emphasized that confronting spinsterhood “means facing the consequences it leaves behind, such as poor community building and an increase in moral decay,” noting that mass weddings are also the solution for those seeking is after marriage in the face of worsening economic and living conditions that coincide. with an increase in girls’ dowry.
She demanded a revision of the dowry, which constituted a heavy burden on young people, and pushed them into the spinstership circle; Determining the dowry to match the economic situation “will be an effective supplement to the phenomenon of mass marriages towards a society without spinsterhood.”