A Kurdish Wedding: Dance, Eat and Party like a Dutch Festival

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Moving to a new country every two years

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Welcome to Kurdistan!

This Kurdish wedding I attended in Erbil is for sure the biggest wedding I’ve ever been to.

It reminded me of a big Dutch indoor Festival. Kurdish weddings and Dutch dance festivals may seem worlds apart, but they actually have more in common than you might think!

How is a Dutch dance festival like a Kurdish wedding?

  • Huge LED screens? Check 
  • Big Sound system? Check
  • A decorated theme styled stage? Check
  • Performing artists? Check
  • Catering? Check
  • Fireworks? Check
  • Everyone dancing? Check check check

A Kurdish wedding is a big deal in Kurdistan. It is a celebration with cultural significance for the Kurdish people.

From the traditional dances to the ceremonies, a Kurdish wedding is an occasion filled with love, tradition, and the most important thing, family and the community.

A Kurdish Wedding

A Kurdish wedding is a celebration that holds deep cultural significance for the Kurdish people. From the traditional dances to the elaborate ceremonies, a Kurdish wedding is a memorable occasion filled with love, tradition, and community.

Kurdish Wedding Dance

One of the best things about Kurdish weddings is that everybody dances together, and I mean everybody! Men, women, children, people you’ve never even met all hold hands while dancing for two hours straight.

Just like at a Dutch festival there is a great sense of togetherness.

If I’m correct, the famous Kurdish dance is called the Kurdish Halparke. Everybody stands in a line in one big circle, while moving two steps to the right and then one step to the left.

Check out the after movie of the wedding further below to see the dance in action.

At first it took me a while to understand the dance moves but after some practice you just know how to do it automatically.

Don’t you get sweaty hands if you hold hands and dance for two hours? Yes, but that’s ok!

There are two ways to hold hands while doing a Kurdish wedding dance. You either hold hands or you hold each other’s pinky fingers.

The Kurdish Wedding Dance is a symbol of joy and unity, bringing people together to celebrate the marriage of the bride and groom.

It’s an awesome vibe with joy and happiness the entire evening. Even without speaking the same language you still manage to communicate, dance together, and have a great time.

Kurdish Wedding Traditions

Kurdish wedding traditions vary depending on the region and the community.

The regions Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah all have different traditions. However, certain traditions are common across Kurdistan. One tradition is giving gifts between the families of the bride and groom. Additionally, most Kurdish weddings include big dinners, loud music, and a lot of dancing.

After movie

And Just like big Dutch festivals, there will be an after movie! An entire camera crew films the whole night.

On the wedding I attended they even had one of those big camera cranes that you would see hovering over a crowd at a festival. 

The actual after movie of the wedding I attended can be seen below!

Colorful clothes

Kurdish wedding attire is a colorful and vibrant. The bride usually wears a traditional Kurdish dress, full of embroidery and jewelry.

The groom wears a suit or a traditional Kurdish outfit, which can also be decorated with embroidery and jewelry.

The girlfriends of the bride wear bright colorful dresses with red, blue, yellow and other colors.

Kurdish Wedding Dance Lyrics

The lyrics of the Kurdish wedding dance songs are often filled with love, happiness, and blessings for the newly married couple.

These songs, sung in Kurdish, express the joy and excitement of the occasion and serve as a way to honor the bride and groom.

The lyrics also reflect the rich cultural heritage of the Kurdish people, with references to their long history, traditions, and values.

Read more about it at Kurdistan 24.

Pumping music

The music is a huge part of the wedding, and it’s fast! It was like a Yellow Claw kind of pumping beat. Amazing to see everybody dance together. Loud and fast music? check!

The music starts with slow dance music. During the event the music goes faster and faster up to 140 bpm.

Festival Level Decorations

Just like at a Dutch dance festival there was a theme styled stage. I would describe it as a fairytale style theme! Nothing seems too crazy to make the wedding a special event.

In many areas in Kurdistan it is not allowed to rent a house, unless you are married!

It is a form of social security, and a way for people in the neighborhood to know that there are good people living there. This is one on the reasons why there are many weddings in Kurdistan. 

LED Screens

Now obviously these big screens will not be at every Kurdish wedding, but they were at this one! Enormous screens so the guests can see everything that is happening while enjoying some food.

I find it true fascinating to see this kind of high level equipment at a wedding.

Ending of the Show

What’s a better way to end an event than with fireworks. The marrying couple performed one last dance and closed it with indoor fireworks. Just like many Dutch festivals it’s the closing ceremony of an amazing event.

The evening ended with a real climax an a big applause from all the guests.

What’s the one thing Dutch people do after a night of partying?Dutch folks eat kebab or falafel, which was exactly what we also had after dancing at the Kurdish wedding.

Who Pays for this big Kurdish Wedding?

In Kurdish culture, it is customary for the groom’s family to pay the cost of the wedding. However, nowadays, both the bride’s and groom’s families may contribute to the wedding costs.

Final Thoughts on Kurdish Weddings

It was wonderful to experience a Kurdish wedding and to see the cultural similarities with a Dutch festival. If you ever get the chance to go to a Kurdish wedding, don’t hesitate!

It is a unique and unforgettable experience that you won’t want to miss. Just be ready for some serious partying, because Kurdish weddings can last for days.

Experiencing these kind of unique events is one of the great perks of living in a different country every two years. 

During a vacation trip I wouldn’t be able to attend these kind of events. But, because I’m living in Erbil I’m able to meet more people, really get to know the culture and establish great connections. 

A Kurdish wedding is an event I won’t soon forget!

F.A.Q. A Kurdish Wedding: Dance, Eat and Party like a Dutch Festival

A Kurdish wedding is a traditional celebration of marriage among Kurdish people, who are an ethnic group living primarily in the Middle East but also in many other places.

Kurdish weddings are known for their dance performances, delicious food, and festive atmosphere. In my opinion they often resemble a Dutch festival in terms of the joy and excitement.

Kurdish weddings often have religious elements, especially Islamic traditions. However, the extent of religious influence is not that strong. It is primarily focused on having fun, dancing, food and music.

While arranged marriages still exist in some Kurdish communities, not all Kurdish weddings are arranged. Nowadays, many couples have the freedom to choose their partners.

A man standing on top of a sand dune with his arms outstretched.

About the author

Chris Oberman is the founder and author of Moving Jack and has been traveling the world for over 20 years to 40+ countries.

He lives in a different country every two years which allows him to gain unique in-depth insights and experiences in new places abroad.

Quoted on Gritdaily.com, NRC Newspaper, Vice,and Feedspot.

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