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Palestinians keep heritage alive with Land Day wedding

The couple dance during their wedding ceremony as Palestinians mark Land Day in Burj al-Shemali. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BURJ AL-SHEMALI, Lebanon: At a heritage wedding to mark Land Day, Abu Khaldoun, an elderly Palestinian, recalls the last wedding he attended in Haifa before Palestine was seized and later declared the state of Israel. “The women were ululating and we were playing with fireworks,” he said. “I can see Palestine again in this heritage wedding, and I’ve always dreamed of attending a wedding again in the land of my ancestors.”

Land Day commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when six Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded and jailed after clashing with Israeli police during a protest over the Israeli government’s plan to expropriate 60,000 dunums of Arab-owned land in the Galilee.

A heritage wedding was held in the refugee camp of Burj al-Shemali in Tyre to honor the day, with Abu Khaldoun among many attending.

The groom, Ali al-Ahmad, was dressed in traditional Palestinian garb, while his bride Raghida Hammoud al-Mohammad, surrounded by her family and friends, arrived with her hands and feet painted with henna, a wedding tradition that dates back to the time of her grandmother before the Nakba in 1948.

“The day will come when I will paint henna on my daughter’s hands for her wedding day in Palestine,” Mohammad said. “I hope our families in Palestine, which is about 10 km away from the camp, can hear the sounds of this celebration. I hope the air carries our sounds to them.”

Later, the groom, holding a sword, performed a traditional dance in front of his bride, to demonstrate his manliness and his ability to protect her.

“The pictures of the wedding have already been to sent to our relatives in Gaza through the Internet,” Ahmad said.

The traditional Palestinian wedding was organized by the Human Dialogue Forum.

The typical DJs were absent from this wedding, replaced instead by a band dressed in Palestinian garb performing traditional songs and spoken word pieces.

“We wanted this traditional wedding to reach out to the traditional Palestinian land for Land Day. We wanted it to be the wedding of the land and to provide an incentive to the new generation to hold on to Palestine and to their Palestinian culture and heritage,” wedding coordinator Farid Jamal told The Daily Star.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 31, 2014, on page 4.

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Summary

At a heritage wedding to mark Land Day, Abu Khaldoun, an elderly Palestinian, recalls the last wedding he attended in Haifa before Palestine was seized and later declared the state of Israel.

Land Day commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when six Palestinians were killed and hundreds more wounded and jailed after clashing with Israeli police during a protest over the Israeli government's plan to expropriate 60,000 dunums of Arab-owned land in the Galilee.

The traditional Palestinian wedding was organized by the Human Dialogue Forum.

The typical DJs were absent from this wedding, replaced instead by a band dressed in Palestinian garb performing traditional songs and spoken word pieces.


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