Despite The Bombs, We have a Wedding to Attend

Today, it is not the time to cry. It is the time of joy, frivolity and song.

Mahmood and Shima got married recently in a great feast of celebration despite the bloody and vicious war on Gaza.

A big wedding ceremony was held in Deir Al Balah in the west of central Gaza despite the roaring sound of planes. It was an eerie normality!

The social media has been inundated with video clips of the dancing and pomp. The party was held in the Mohammad Al Durra Stadium in Dier Al Balah which currently houses thousands of displaced people in tents that came to assemble here from all over the Gaza Strip.

The couple were engaged seven months ago says the mother of the groom.

“They were supposed to be married in the middle of October but canceled the wedding after 7 October when the war on Gaza started,” she says.

“There is no better time than the present,” she says with more carelessness than a brave face as if to say this is our life. “Let us get it over and done with.”

Just after that glum day, the families were forced to move from the Gaza City and like hundreds of thousands of people, driven by Israeli warplanes, ships and troops with their big guns, missiles and bombs that thudded day and night. 

Literally overnight, they become displaced and moved from one place to another, internal refugees inside Gaza. This family was lucky however. It was only one stop for them unlucky many of the others who kept moving finally ending up in Dier Al Balah, across the center of Gaza, and to the south to Khan Younis, Beni Suhaila and Rafah.

So, their parents came together in the makeshift tent they hoisted and decided to consummate the marriage of the young ones. It was a beautiful wedding, despite the reg-tagged surroundings amidst the rows upon rows of tents. 

The bride wore a beautiful white dress adorned with red trappings of rich Palestinian embroidery, giving one a plush aura of quirk modernity and tradition. It was a feeling of pageantry amidst the daily massacres and the destruction.

Just for that moment nobody gave a dam about the war instituted against them. “So what?” seems to be the prevailing attitude amongst the men and women, young and old. They even chanted a song about life and death.

Weddings are ongoing in Gaza despite the Genocide perpetrated by the Israelis. Last month, there was another wedding ceremony in Rafah with the same bluster and joy and under the Israeli thuds.

“You soon get used to it,” one of those at the party said. “This is defiance, by our marriage, our song and enjoyment, we are telling the Israelis do what you will, you will never beat us,” said Akram.

Weddings in Palestine and Gaza is a time of happy occasions and reflections, it’s a time of fertility, reproduction and growth. It’s a representation of Palestinian identity and its renewal and the Israelis are not happy with that and see it as a direct challenge to them.

Gazans marry a lot younger than the average in the occupied West Bank and produce a lot of children. This Israeli war has highlighted a lot of pregnancies with women waiting in the pipeline waiting to give birth, sometimes in ramshackle houses torn apart, in heavily human-congested UNRWA schools that become a place for the displaced and/or simply on side-roads and alleyways.

Only this week a young woman cried when she heard she was carrying triplets. “What? In this war against us?” she asked aghast and she is not the only one in a Gazan population of 2.3 million.

In the latest wedding there was much dance and merriment with traditional folklore songs and rollicking in between tents and everyone clapping and singing despite being uprooted from their homes and the bleak future. For a while war was the furthest from anyone’s mind.

“I was planning for this wedding soon after the couple got engaged but with the war, we lost everything and that includes the dresses for the bride” the mother’s groom said. 

“But that didn’t bother me” Mohammad, the young man being wed said. Unlike the bride, he was wearing jeans with a checkered shirt.

“We are making do with what we have and it turned out to be great with everyone one enjoying themselves.”

“Don’t worry we are not leaving our homeland, we are staying put, whether here in Dier Al Balah or going back to Gaza city to rebuild our homes,” he says cheerfully.

“What I want to do when this is over is take my bride and go for honeymoon but guess where? To Makkah, for Umrah and thank the Lord,” that we have made it alive in this Israeli war against us. 

Marwan Asmar is an Amman based writer

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