Photo essay: Weddings cut through gloomy mood in Gaza Strip

In a time with little to be joyous about in Gaza, weddings have emerged as welcome festivities that offer a break from the often morose mood in the strip.

By: AP | Gaza City | Published:August 4, 2016 2:55 pm
gaza strip, weddings in gaza, gaza weddings, weddings in strife Weddings have become an important way to forget – even if for a while – the trails and tribulations of those living in the Gaza Strip. In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, two girls pose for a picture as they sit in front of the family house during the wedding party of Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, in Gaza City. (Source: AP)

Like dozens of other couples who got married this summer in the isolated Gaza Strip, for Saed and Falasteen Abu Aser, their wedding was an elaborately planned celebration, complete with a procession through the streets of their neighbourhood.

In a time with little to be joyous about in Gaza, weddings have emerged as welcome festivities that offer a break from the often morose mood in the strip. The coastal territory has faced three wars with Israel over the last decade and a stifling blockade imposed by both Israel and Egypt after the Islamic militant Hamas group violently overran the territory in 2007.

In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, friends and relatives of Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, dance in the streets around the neighborhood, while being carried on a friend's shoulders, before his wedding party, in Gaza City. Weddings have emerged as a welcome celebration that slices through the often morose mood in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian coastal territory run by the militant group Hamas. For both poor and well-off Gazans, weddings are a days-long, lavish affair of parties and dancing. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra) In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, friends and relatives of Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, dance in the streets around the neighbourhood, while being carried on a friend’s shoulders, before his wedding party, in Gaza City. (Source: AP)

But for the happy couple and their families, a wedding is both a respite from daily hardships and a focal point in the lives of both the well-off and the poor. “My joy is great among my family and my friends and my neighbours and I thank them because they helped and supported me,” said the 22-year-old groom Saed Abu Aser.

His bride, Falasteen, is 17. The Abu Asers are first cousins who come from a poor family. It is not uncommon for cousins to marry in Palestinian society.

In this Saturday, July 31, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, and his pride, Falasteen, walk into the wedding hall amid smoke from fireworks, in Gaza City. Weddings in Gaza have emerged as a welcome celebration that slices through the often morose existence in the Gaza Strip. The coastal territory has been beaten down by three wars with Israel over the last decade and a stifling blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra) In this Saturday, July 31, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, and his bride, Falasteen, walk into the wedding hall amid smoke from fireworks, in Gaza City. (Source: AP)

Their festivities began days before the wedding ceremony, with a boisterous stag party in which the groom’s friends set the dance floor on fire to the tune of a local band while glitter twinkled from their sweaty faces.

On the day of the wedding, the families gathered for a cheerful lunch before the bride and groom got all spruced up for the big night – he in a black suit and she in a white gown and matching cape, her face daubed in white powder.

In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, friends of Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, spray him with cologne as they help him get dressed for his wedding, at the family house in Gaza City. Weddings have emerged as a welcome celebration that slices through the often morose mood in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian coastal territory run by the militant group Hamas. For both poor and well-off Gazans, weddings are a days-long, lavish affair of parties and dancing. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra) In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, friends of Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, spray him with cologne as they help him get dressed for his wedding, at the family house. (Source: AP)

They held a lavish wedding party at a hall, where they were driven to in a convoy of decorated, honking cars.

AP photographer Khalil Hamra joined the celebrations, and here is a series of his photographs.

In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, 22, walks with his bride, Falasteen, out of her family house to the wedding hall to celebrate their wedding, in Gaza City. Weddings have emerged as a welcome celebration that slices through the often morose mood in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian coastal territory run by the militant group Hamas. For both poor and well-off Gazans, weddings are a days-long, lavish affair of parties and dancing. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra) In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, 22, walks with his bride, Falasteen, out of her family house to the wedding hall to celebrate their wedding, in Gaza City. (Source: AP) In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, dances in the street on his way to the wedding hall, in Gaza City. Weddings have emerged as a welcome celebration that slices through the often morose mood in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian coastal territory run by the militant group Hamas. For both poor and well-off Gazans, weddings are a days-long, lavish affair of parties and dancing. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra) In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, dances in the street on his way to the wedding hall, in Gaza City. (Source: AP) In this Thursday, July 28, 2016 photo, relatives of Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, dance in a party celebrating his wedding, in Gaza City. Weddings have emerged as a welcome celebration that slices through the often morose mood in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian coastal territory run by the militant group Hamas. For both poor and well-off Gazans, weddings are a days-long, lavish affair of parties and dancing. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra) In this Thursday, July 28, 2016 photo, relatives of Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, dance in a party celebrating his wedding, in Gaza City. (Source: AP) In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, center right, dances with relatives while holding guns in the family house during his wedding party, in Gaza City. Weddings have emerged as a welcome celebration that slices through the often morose mood in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian coastal territory run by the militant group Hamas. For both poor and well-off Gazans, weddings are a days-long, lavish affair of parties and dancing. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra) In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 photo, Palestinian groom Saed Abu Aser, center right, dances with relatives while holding guns in the family house during his wedding party, in Gaza City. (Source: AP)

All those expenses can add up, but Abu Aser’s family took out a loan to pay for what has become an increasingly important milestone for people in Gaza. Other impoverished Gazans ask for donations to pay for their rites of marriage.

 

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