The Dry Season in Burundi – Time to Celebrate! III of III (Urban Elite Marriages)

Weddings for the wealthy (or aspiring wealthy) can be extremely elaborate.  If at all possible, the family will rent space at a hotel where entertainment, drinks and food will be provided for upwards of 400 guests.  If that is not possible, the family will arrange the fête at a less expensive locale but may pay an upmarket hotel for having photos taken in their grounds.   These grand events have multiplied now that the war is over.

The following weddings took place at the Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika, a favorite locale for weddings, engagements, and other celebrations.

A stroll by Lake Tanganyika with ntori drummers, di rigeur if the family can affort it

A stroll by Lake Tanganyika with traditional drummers – de rigueur if the family can afford it!

*********

This is Part III of the blog series on wedding and engagement celebrations in Burundi during the dry season.  The first blog looked at the poor and the second will look at rural notables.  Some background, from the first blog:

July and August are the months of engagements and marriages in Burundi and these are almost always accompanied by feasts that are as lavish as the families can organize. . .

Why July and August?  First, we have  two ‘seasons’ – wet and dry.  Temperatures vary more between night and day than they do between wet and dry seasons, although there is higher humidity during the rainy months, from mid-September through May or June, than there is during the dry season, from approximately June through September.  It is during this long dry season that most celebrations take place.

The second reason that celebrations take place during July and August: The dry season is a time to relax a bit, to enjoy the fruits of the harvest, and to put away money from the crops for important expenses – especially education of the children – and also for celebrations, especially engagements and marriages.

It is also a time for making sorghum beer and banana wine, which especially for women in rural areas are important money-earners – indeed, most people have their favorite producer of these beverages.  Sorghum beer is traditionally consumed as part of engagement or wedding ceremonies.

The following wedding party paid to come and have their pictures taken at the hotel.

Families come to the hotel in motorcades that are proceeded by a pickup on which a cameraman takes a video as the group parades through town and out to the hotel

Families come to the hotel in motorcades that may be preceded by a pickup on which a cameraman takes a video as the group parades through town and out to the hotel

More elaborate weddings may include the walkways being strewn with rose petals, covered with a red carpet, and-or lined with candles, as shown in the following pictures:

Rose petals - give off a wonderful fragrance as they are walked over

Rose petals – give off a wonderful fragrance as they are walked over.  The dress worn by the hostess is a  traditional style that women often use for fancy events

Red carpets and candles leading to the ceremony

Red carpets and candles leading to the ceremony

A variety of elaborate decorations along the way may be used

A variety of elaborate decorations along the way may be used

The couple mounts to the area where guests are seated, followed by traditional ntori drummers

The couple mounts to the area where guests are seated, followed by traditional drummers, who beat their drums while singing.

Ntori drummers then come to drum and sing

Drummers then come to drum and sing – a traditional feature in weddings together with traditional dancers, if these can be afforded.

Each drummer takes a turn showing his skills

Each drummer takes a turn showing his skills

There might also be traditional dancers, both women and men

There might also be traditional dancers, both women and men

A really unique wedding took place a while back.  Can you guess what this is going to be?

prenuptial calesthentics?  - No, though this did involve nearly all of the hotel's maintenance staff to arrange.

Prenuptial calisthenics? – No, though this did take nearly all of the hotel’s maintenance staff an entire day to arrange.

… And this is what they were constructing -

A pivilion in the middle of the swimming pool for the bride and groom, who sat facing the guests

A pavilion in the middle of the swimming pool for the bride and groom, who sat facing the guests

This was truely unique - for Burundi or elsewhere, I imagine

This was truly unique – for Burundi or elsewhere, I imagine

For this spectacular wedding, dinner for over 400 was prepared and served:

Two, huge adjoining tents were erected in front of the swimming pool

Two, huge adjoining tents were erected in front of the swimming pool

More rose petals

More rose petals

One of the two dessert tables

One of the two dessert tables

Another wedding party promenading the beach – while waving to a second wedding party that is closer to the lake (out of the camera range).

Promenading

Promenading along the shores of Lake Tanganyika

Here is a menu – that was prepared in the Hotel  kitchen for one of the elaborate weddings:

MENU 

1. Sangala à la girardet saffron cream sauce with peas
2.  Supreme de volaille with dried mushrooms veloute sauce
3.  Filet de bœuf with peppercorn demi glace sauce
4.  Buttered honey carrots
5.  Medley of broccoli and cauliflower in béchamel sauce
6.  Gratin de pommes de terre
7.  Almond, cardamom and Turmeric Rice
8.  White rice
COCKTAIL & SNACKS BEFOREHAND
Chicken liver Paté with red onion marmalade on crustinis
Nems filled with avocado and confit of root vegetables with apple vinaigrette
Pepper and cardamom cured beef filet with aioli in profiteroles

The following video of a local drumming group shows the ensemble performing in front of tourists – but traditional drumming is very much a part of Burundi life and needs to be seen in that context.

http://youtu.be/IqEdvkeywZg

Traditional dancing, seen in one of the above pictures, is also a central feature of Burundian social life.  The following video shows a group of students at Université de Sherbrooke (Quebec, Canada) performing Igishakamba, a dance found in northern Burundi.

http://youtu.be/bIj35gIR1z8

Blog revised 26 July, 2013

About diana buja

Picture from a recent training of veterinarians and vet technicians upcountry. I discuss in French with some Kirundi and have also a Kirundi translator to help with technical aspects ... Blog entries are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general, reflecting over 30 years of work and study in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
This entry was posted in After the War, Cuisine, Social Life, Africa-General, Food, Africa-Central, Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika2, Living here, Lake Tanganyika, Weddings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Dry Season in Burundi – Time to Celebrate! III of III (Urban Elite Marriages)

  1. Pingback: Wild Rice, Salt, and Navigation on Lake Tanganyika: 19th Century and Now | DIANABUJA'S BLOG: Africa, The Middle East, Agriculture, History and Culture

  2. Neon Light : says:

    Wedding parties are very enjoyable specially if there are many men and women that wants to dance “”

    Like this

  3. Wonderful. Makes even Mexican weddings fade into insignificance. Though I don’t see boxes for each guest filled with butterflies that flutter out when opened.

    Like this

    • dianabuja says:

      Rachel – I like the idea of butterflies in baskets! Rose petals will have to do here, though, as there are few butterflies.

      Like this

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