Some of the men forgather for a ceremonial meal as guests of the boy's household (p. 160). The groom has been solemnlshaved and dressed in ritual silence by two or three specially chosen age mates, and attends this last solemn meal. He must not speak until he is alone with his bride. Finally, the whole company escorts him to evening prayer in the mosque, and then with religious chanting to his house, where a senior kinswoman takes him by the hand and leads him to his bride.
Normally the balance of the bride price has either been paid, or is paid during these last ceremonies. Also, secretly, the two fathers or other representatives of the couple retire at some point with an imam and perform the nikah, the religious rite which validates the marriage. This is always done in secret because enemies can easily, by tying magic knots at this moment, render the groom impotent. In theory, this rite alone makes the marriage valid in village eyes. No other part of the ceremony is indispensable (Stirling (1957), p. 29).
Virginity is highly valued, and the bride is expected to bleed at her deflowering. Accounts varied, but some ceremonial inspection by the women belonging to the groom's household seems to be normal, and the absence of blood is taken as proof of unchastity. An unchaste girl should be sent home in disgrace, but no one seemed very sure what in fact happens in such a case, or would quote actual instances.
The new bride is treated as a special person. She wears her new clothes till they are no longer new. For a week or two she is not allowed out of the house, and is only slowly broken into her new duties. She is not allowed to return home for a period varying, according to the distance, from a few weeks to six months or even a year. After a few weeks her husband's parents `open the road' between the households by a formal visit, after which her own people may visit her. A bride is said to remain a stranger in the new household for the first year.
When one or both of the pair has been married before - a class of marriage I call `secondary' in this book - the scale of the ceremonies is greatly reduced; there is normally almost no wedding festivity - dügün - at all. On one occasion I was one of a small party who went by night to a neighbouring village to fetch a bride to a widower in Sakaltutan. (We had been told that only three weeks before she had left her first husband, her