And so, last Wednesday, it was with the greatest of relief for thousands of young men and women, and their families - to be financially assisted in getting married here in Mukalla and in other parts of Yemen. They were assisted by two kind businessmen from Saudi Arabia, of Hadhramy descent.
This year, as reported by the Arab News:
........more than 2,200 brides and grooms from seven governorates (Hadramout, Aden, Taiz, Shabwa, Mahra, Al-Jawif, Mareb and Abean) tied the knot in the festival that started in April 13.As I wrote earlier: due to the expenses involved, most men stay longer before getting married; and fewer men are getting married at any given time. Meanwhile, the girls are growing in to women and getting older; and while on the other hand, the men are choosing the younger women to marry. The men have the privilege and luxury of getting married whenever they want to, irrespective of their age; while women have a 'marriageable' age. This has caused many women to be condemned in to wretched unmarried lives, as due to their reaching a certain age - they end up never getting married at all. When they too, would very much wish to get married and have children.
Adel Al-Juaidi, chief organizer of the festival, said getting married has become like a pie in the sky for many Yemenis due to poverty, skyrocketing dowries and some social mores.
“To solve this problem, the idea of the festival came into existence. We were the first in the republic who brought together 45 charities under one umbrella called the Afaf Festival to help unmarried people to walk down the aisle. One of the aims of the festival is to reduce the number of spinsters in Yemen.”
In 2008, 1,100 couples were married in the first festival. The main activities of the festival included Qur'an recitation, a fishing-boat parade and other programs.
Each groom is given 65,000 Yemeni rials ($290), a gold necklace, a ring and clothes. Another 30,000 rials ($133) and a meal for 300 is granted to the bride’s family. Eligible grooms must be employed and have to be unmarried.
Many here, know the very bad effects this 'tradition' is causing, but very few do any thing to stop it! And the result: the huge debts incurred after weddings; and saddest of all - the very large number of unmarried women who remain stuck in their parents homes. Many of whom will never know what having their own homes will be like and what the joy of being married and having children is. Though, they would very much love to! Thankfully, for the thousands of the young men and women who tied the knot a few days ago, they were saved from going through the very expensive and painful cost of getting married. The best way they can complement the kindness of those who helped them, is to reciprocate by making their marriages successful, strong and lasting.