September 4, 2009

Durimaa's Wedding Celebration

Sometimes I just feel out of the loop. Durimaa, the Stupa Cafe manager usually picks stuff up for the residents when she does the weekly shopping for the cafe. But one Thursday, one of her assistants picked up the list. When I asked why, she said Durimaa would be off for two weeks because she was getting married. What? Married?

Later I found out that, yes, Durimaa had taken a few weeks off to get married. Both of their families are from the countryside, so most of the time was spent away from Ulaanbaatar. Tradition is that the groom goes to the girl's parents and asks to marry the daughter. But tradition also says that the father is supposed to be a hard sell for at least a day, making the prospective groom work for it.

Anyway, they both arrived back in Ulaanbaatar and wanted all the staff at work to come and visit their new ger. Traditionally, the families provide the new couple with a complete ger, furnished and everything, so they can start the marriage in a good way. So, on Tuesday, at 2pm, we loaded up a few taxi's and headed over to Durimaa's.

Traffic was murder but it was a nice sunny day and not too hot either. We got lost which isn't hard to do in any Mongolian city, especially Ulaanbaatar. Eventually both Durimaa and her husband drove out to find us and guide us back to their home.

Waiting for us were both Durimaa and her husband's fathers. who still live in the countryside. We were invited in, usually guests and men on the left and women on the right. They also had a couch, so that was reserved for Gyalmo and the two fathers. Then Durimaa and her husband wined and dined us personally. Difficult to describe in detail, but there was lots of arag, fermented mare's milk, and other assorted hard liquors, cheese, and meat. After a lot of drinking, I mean a lot of drinking (which was still pretty low key since most of the staff at our center are women) and eating, there was singing.

Gyalmo presents Durimaa with gifts from the Center

Just part of the food served

The ornate painting of the top of the ger

The two fathers holding court with the staff

The fathers passed around their snuff bottles.
You sniff and give compliments, then pass back.
This repeats for everyone present.

Did I mention, there was a lot of drinking

Durimaa and her husband

And the traditional group shot [smile]