The Kyrgyz wedding ceremony involves several procedures. "Bride kidnapping" has been practiced by nomadic tribes for centuries In Kyrgyzstan, but now it is prohibited by law. Of course, now some of these abductions are staged, either for romantic reasons or by couples who would otherwise face family opposition. The majority of Kyrgyz weddings, however, takes place through matchmaking arrangements between the parents of the bride and groom.
The important part of the wedding is taking the bride from her parents’ house to the groom’s house to become a member of her future husband’s family. In old times, most girls married men from other tribes and lived far away. They couldn’t see their own family for long periods. Therefore leaving her parents’ house is a very exciting, significant and touching and sad moment for the bride and her family. For this ceremony the traditional yurt is set up on the courtyard, in which bride’s aunts prepare the girl for the wedding. They unbraid her forty braids (kïrk chach), which are traditionally worn by unmarried Kyrgyz girls, and braid her hair into two braids.Then, they help the bride to put on her wedding dress and decorations. The bride puts on her traditional wedding dress and a shökülö, a cone shaped headdress with a veil on top. Throughout the process they sang traditional wedding songs to the bride before she left for her husband’s. The groom in a white suit with elements of traditional costume and kalpak, a traditional hat made out of wool, and arrives at the bride’s house with his friends in a procession of well decorated cars. One of the traditions involved is that bride and groom play on selkinchek, traditional swings, while singers sing traditional wedding songs to them. The bride’s colorful dowry, which consist of hand-made traditional felts, rugs, blankets, cushions, pillows and clothes, follow her to her future husband’s house. Some time before the wedding most couples conduct nikkah kyiuu, which is muslim legalization of the marriage. Only after that the marriage registration takes place.
Before the civil registration the bride and groom and the younger generation; their sisters and brothers, friends and younger members of family drive around the city. Their route consists of certain famous sites, where couple and their guests stop to take pictures, drink champagne and say toasts. Next the newlywed couple and their guests arrive into the Wedding House, where the registration of marriage is conducted. After the registration all guests go to the restaurant, where celebration takes place. The celebration contains includes a lot of food, and drinks, people saying wishes, relatives exchanging gifts, singing and dancing.
Other traditions involved incorporated into the wedding were : kalïng, paying of the bride price by the groom’s parents; slaughtering of a horse for the feast; kiyit kiygizüü, a gift exchange (mostly clothes from head to toe) between the in-laws; öpkö chaptï, a ritual with a newly slaughtered goat’s raw lung which is used to hit the backs of the bride and the groom who sit back to back; koshok aytuu, singing of the wedding song; sep berüü, giving the bride’s dowry and loading it onto a camel; kïz uzatuu, viewing of the girl/bride; offering of koumiss to the köch, nomadic movement (in our case it was a wedding “köch” or caravan) from pasture to pasture.
The second part of the celebration took place in the groom’s house. The ceremonies practiced are kelin kirgizüü, welcoming the bride to her new home; sep jayuu, displaying her dowry for people to see, nike kïyuu; a Muslim ceremony carried out by a mullah to legalize the marriage between the couple, which is usually followed by toi, a celebration involving music, dancing, singing and saying many blessings from the guests to the newlywed couple.