August 11, 2007 (KHARTOUM) — Sudanese charity groups married off some 1,250 young Sudanese men and women on Friday in a mass wedding ceremony in a tent in the grounds of Khartoum’s Shahid mosque.
The combined celebration and contract-signing, organized and funded by the charities "Ihsan" and the Council of Alms, provided weddings under sharia law for young people who would otherwise have trouble affording a traditional wedding, organizers said.
"We need to make marriage simple. This is the Islamic way," said Tayyib Abdullah, director of Ihsan.
In Sudan, where decades of war and recent U.S. government sanctions have made life expensive for an impoverished population, marriage can be a daunting financial burden.
Many young people have to save for years before they can afford a wedding, which in traditional Sudanese society can involve a large dowry in addition to celebration costs and setting up a household.
In the large enclosure of the Shahid mosque, hundreds gathered below a shady red cloth canopy after Friday prayers. Colourfully-dressed women ululated and clapped as men dressed in white performed a traditional dance with swords held high.
"This is a blessed day, a sweet day," 20-year-old bride Shadia Shezali Youssef said, sitting among female relatives, her hands covered in a dark henna floral design.
"It makes it easier for people, to gather them together like this for marriage," she said, adding that each newlywed couple would leave with a suitcase full of clothes, kitchenware and a present from the organization.
Abdullah said the mass wedding was the sixth the charity had organized in the past five years.