Bukharian traditions
История бухарских евреев | Новая история (1917 - наши дни)

How do we, as Bukharian Jews, follow the traditions when tying the knot with our significant other? Qandchuri, Shirinchuri, Qoshchinon, Domod daroron, Poytacht ...what does all this accomplish for the chatan (groom) and kala (bride)? As Imonuel Rybakov, chairman of the Association of Bukharian Jewish Youth of the USA «ACHDUT,» said: «Certain traditional events are necessary to continue the Bukharian image. They bring the groom and bride closer together and celebrate their unity.» Youth Association «ACHDUT», in cooperation with the Congregation Beth Gavriel, arranged for a lecture on Tisha B\'Av (9th of Av...3rd of August, 2006) in which I.Rybakov enthusiastically spoke about old Bukharian Jewish traditions and customs.

The audience, sectioned off to male and female sides, was full of men and women, young and old. As a member of the audience and designated note–taker, I noticed three or four elderly women nodding to Mr.Rybakov\'s historical explanations and stories, saying they experienced it all. Each had an arranged marriage; covered her face during the actual wedding; had her clothes unhooked, but not taken off, during the Chupa, so as to be «open» for G–d\'s blessings; gave up property to her husband; and had the bed sheet shown after the first night of her wedding. However, their nodding was not a way of supporting these «offensive» customs, as they so called them. Furthermore, the woman was supposed to be naturally clean by having her eyebrows plucked and body hair removed, and was urged to become pure by going to the mikvah so as to be ready to give herself, even at the young age of 14 or 15. This was all supposed to be done for a young guy the girl possibly had not even met. Throughout the lecture, some men sounded as if they were eager to hear more of this discussion of past requirements for the woman, while others, to my surprise, were shocked to hear what a woman had to face when leaving her parents\' home.

There are many practices in Bukharian marriage customs that were deemed positive by most of the listeners there that day. The eating of sweets for both the future bride and groom during the Qandchuri; the setting up of the Shirinchuri, or the engagement party that takes place at least two weeks before the wedding. The «bridal shower,» as it\'s known today that commemorates girl\'s departure from her parents. The «bachelor party» where men would eat, talk and dance. Plus, the giving of gold gifts to the bride during the Poytacht that is the celebration of the first Shabbat after the wedding. Specifically, Mr. Rybakov asked the audience\'s perspective on the Qoshchinon (the plucking of the eyebrows). «I certainly would do it for my marriage because it\'s a custom,» says Miriam from the girls\' side. Alex, one of the guys, declares that having a Qoshchinon is not important to him, but if his future wife would prefer it, he would not mind.

To this day, some traditions are upheld. How? It is mainly due to people learning to embrace it as part of their culture and show subsequent generations how to do what needs to be done. However, other traditional events have not fully lasted, such as having arranged marriages, covering the bride\'s head throughout the wedding, only dancing to Bukharian music in long sleeve dresses, disclosing the bed sheet, and giving up property to the husband. Some Bukharians do them here and there, but the majority gave up such customs.

The mentality of the young and modern «American Bukharians» is changing and, therefore, erasing along with it the practice of oldfashioned, unfavorable customs.

Nevertheless, it is with respect that Imonuel Rybakov was motivated to share with us this history that will inevitably always stay in our minds and in our hearts.

 
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