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Marriage a family affair in Chaldean Church

  • A wedding procession in the Christian village of Armash, Iraqi Kurdistan in 2009
  • A wedding procession in the Christian village of Armash, Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo by Sandrine Alexie, 2009
  • Monseignor Rabban, Bishop of Amedî, will celebrate a wedding in the Christian village of Armash, Iraq. Photo by Sandrine Alexie, 2009
  • A wedding procession in Armash, Iraq. Photo by Sandrine Alexie, 2009

In Chaldean culture, as in many other parts of the Middle East, families are intimately involved in decisions about marriage and spouses, and marriage terms are negotiated by the elder males of both families. Marriage is seen as a link between two families, not simply two individuals. Even where a man and a woman are given greater freedom to choose a mate, the negotiation of terms is the responsibility of each family’s elder males, who have final say.

In the first video, a Chaldean father living in Jordan, having decided that it was time for one son to marry, brought the son back to the village of Alqosh, an ancient Christian village in far northern Iraq. Chaldean Catholics tend overwhelmingly to marry other Chaldean Catholics, so it made sense for the Jordanian family to travel from the small community in Jordan to Alqosh, where there are far more Chaldean women. 

Wedding ceremonies, shown in videos at right, may be fairly small, with close family and friends, but a huge proportion of the Christian community comes out for the reception. Dancing plays an essential role in the celebration, and is central to the local culture, though it does not take place within the church.

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