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Marriage Customs Of Afghanistan

( Originally Published 1897 )

The women of Afghanistan go about unveiled, and a young man may choose a partner for himself without the aid of a match-maker, or even of his parents. If some girl takes his fancy, all he has to do is to cut off a lock of her hair or throw a sheet over her, and proclaim the damsel his bride. He must then make a bargain with the father before he is allowed to take her to his home.

The Tartars who inhabit the highlands of Asia Minor have a peculiar custom. On the day when the bride enters her new home, she and her husband go to meet one another, each accompanied by their respective relatives on horseback. When the bride-groom is sufficiently near to the bride, he throws an apple, or orange, at her, and wheeling round his horse, gallops off to his own tent, while the men of the bride's party follow in hot pursuit, for whoever overtakes him before he reaches home is entitled to his horse, saddle, and clothes. When the bride arrives at her husband's tent, the women of her party implore her not to get down from her horse, while her husband's family entreat her to do so. Every male relative of his brings her a present, begging her at the same time to give up part of the dowry settled on her by her husband. The bride is usually too prudent to forego all of it, but for the sake of courtesy, gives up a small portion.

Some of the Kurds inhabiting the Eastern High-lands of Asia Minor, a hardy and brave mountain race, treat their wives very well. The marriage ceremony is nothing more than a few words uttered in the presence of a priest. One, sect, the Zezidi, are less strict than others with regard to the importance of the marriage-tie, and the men do not forget the possibility of a divorce. For this reason it is said that the bridegroom, when pronouncing the marriage-oath, stands in running water, to signify that he thus washes away the binding nature of the promise, and therefore renders the breach of it less sinful. The ceremony takes place before a Sheikh of their creed, who, at its conclusion, receives from the bridegroom a loaf and gives him in return a consecrated one which the man and woman share between them.

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