Comoros: The Grand Marriage – Al Jazeera World

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Yehia Mohamed Elias, a former Comoran minister for education, married his wife Zakiya 20 years ago. He married his ‘new’ wife Zuleikha just two years ago.

But now Elias and his wives have decided to take part in the great Comoran tradition of the ‘grand marriage’.

The ‘grand marriage’ is an age-old institution which has been passed from generation to generation on the islands of Grande Comore, Moheli and Anjouan.

It’s a symbol of social status on the islands and a must for any self-respecting Comoran, a commitment not even the President of the Republic can avoid embracing.

A Comoran man can only wear certain elemens of the national dress or stand in the first line at the mosque if he’s had a grand marriage.

There are two types of legal unions in the Comoros – the small marriage and the grand one.

The ordinary wedding is an intimate gathering and one which has to satisfy the appetite for celebration until the married couple decide it’s time for – or they can afford – the grand marriage.

This is normally at least a year after the smaller ceremony and involves a major series of parties, processions and gatherings that can last up to two weeks and take over the whole village.

The grand marriage is as important for the bride as it is for the groom, with some beauty preparations starting as long as six months before the event. Other women might only take a week of pre-nuptial make-up preparations, depending on the couple’s social and financial status.

The grand marriage certainly doesn’t come cheap and Elias claims to have spent all his money, over €20,000, on the wedding – not much by modern international standards but a small fortune on the Comoros.

These festivities are a huge extravagance, particularly on these islands which are among the 20 poorest nations in the world.

But while half the population continues to live beneath the poverty line, the grand marriage remains an important beacon of Comoran social standing.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Nice documentary movie about a great tradition of wedding in Comoros and how the people are tied strongly in their traditions, I remembered in time that I was visited Pakistan and my brother in law got married in which was similar tradition.

  2. ridiculous waste of money. I'd rather that money was spent on doing up my house or education…Even a nice holiday. never see the point in flashy weddings.

  3. My wife wanted have a Grand Marriage in 2004 but settled for a small wedding under an agreement to someday have a Grand Marriage! Today 4/21/2017 Maybe forgot? No way! She remind me on our anniversary next month!

  4. SubhanaAllaah am in love Comoros am from Somalia and i have been mombasa,kenya,zanjibar ppl r same culture,religion and look a like even constraction r same except nice green. the language seems like arabic+swahili amazing.

  5. HELLO COMOROS PEOPLE,
    AM MRS WINFRED CURRENTLY LIVING IN THE SULTANATE OF OMAN AND WORKING WITH A CERTAIN MANPOWER
    RECRUITMENT OFFICE WE BRING MAIDS FROM ASIA AS WELL AS AFRICAN COUNTRIES
    AM KINDLY REQUESTING ANY INTRESTED PERSONS WILLING TO SUPPLY US WITH MAIDS FROM COROMOS
    TO INBOX ME FOR MORE DETAILS ABOUT MY OFFICE
    THANKS

  6. The first wife she's ok as long as the husband is happy it seems that her happiness come after its all about the man well it there culture as long as happiness is there..

  7. This movie should be seen by every one in the world because it gives you an insight into what can a religion do your thinking about inter personal relationship. Religious books are interpreted by people according to their background intermangelled with latest scientific theories.

  8. it was amazing & informative documentary about the Comoran culture , obviously their traditional values are built on gaining respect and sharing some of your wealth with your people , even for my personal opinion it's too much expensive to make it widely to everyone in the society I think if they have to make it grand they have to make it at the first day of the wedding not after years .

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