Weddings exhibition aims to keep traditions alive

Matrimonial ceremonies of five cultures featured

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The rich and diverse wedding traditions of five cultures were celebrated at an evening of art, artefacts, photography, music, dance and food in Hammersmith on Friday (21 April).

African-Caribbean, Ethiopian, Moroccan, Filipino and South Asian matrimonial ceremonies and customs were all featured in the exhibition and performances at St Alban's Church, Margravine Road, Hammersmith.

The event was organised by the Hammersmith & Fulham Black and Minority Ethnic (HFBME) community group, which was set up two years ago with council funding. HFBME successfully applied for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the project, which was also funded and supported by the council's arts development team.

Among the organisations which HFBME invited to be part of the project were the Centre for Filipinos, whose youth members based their contribution on the wedding rituals of the Igorot people in the mountainous north of the Philippines, and the Shanti Centre, where a group of South Asian elders have focused on traditional Indian Hindu weddings.

Some traditions are common to more than one community - for example, henna hand-painting is common to both Indian and Moroccan wedding ceremonies. The Moroccan guests gave a demonstration at the event. People who have taken part in the project dressed in traditional costume for the occasion.
There were also short performances from each group - including a quadrille dance by the African-Caribbean participants, a traditional dance from the Ethiopian group and demonstrations of some of the rituals which take place during the five-day wedding ceremony of the Igorot people from the Philippines.

A DVD and booklet have been produced to accompany the event, copies of which will be available to participants. It is also hoped the exhibition will tour other boroughs.

Jamie Oakes, HFBME's co-ordinator of the Weddings heritage project, said: "This event is the culmination of a year-long project, celebrating the cultures and traditions of these five communities. A lot of young people are losing track of the heritage of their home countries. One of the aims of this project is to remind young people of these rich cultures and customs. As this exhibition shows, some young people are going back to their roots even if they are living in the UK - it all adds to the multicultural flavour of our society here."

Ms Oakes also thanked the council's arts development team for their help and advice.

Mulat Haregot, chair of HFBME, said: "This is a great opportunity for communities to work together and promote greater tolerance and understanding of their diverse cultures and traditions."

April 25, 2006