A Mongolian Wedding

 

In the midst of my own wedding preparations which are slowly taking up pace I wanted to share a few pictures of a Mongolian wedding I attended on my trip to the Altai region this summer.

The Mongolian hospitality is incredible – we were invited for the festivities, joined in for all kinds of Mongolian food staples and multiple rounds of vodka, late at night and early in the morning since the Buddhist priest had scheduled the wedding for 7 a.m. when the spirits were most favorable for the union.

The family asked me to take the pictures since I had brought my DSLR with me so within a whim, I became their official wedding photographer. All the festivities took place in one ger that was erected for the wedding. Inside, all the men sat to the left of the entrance, the ladies on the right. The oldest members of the community were sitting close to the altar (on the wall opposite the door). Hence, every time a new visitor entered, all the guests had to shuffle around to keep up the order. And with every new guest, there was another round of vodka and another round of airag. Along the small tables, the plates never got empty, different salads, Mongolian dumplings and all parts of the sheep that was specifically slaughtered for the wedding. As you can see in the pictures, there were also stacks of typical Mongolian bread, covered with sweets and a piece of butter on the top, displaying the wealth of the family (butter associated with fat and calories symbolizes nutritional wealth in this country where nourishing food is difficult to find).

All the gifts were also stacked inside the ger, among them a lot of utensils for the new household, a TV, a new shelf, tissue for the bedding. At the end of the festivities, everything was loaded on a little truck (the modern version, no more horse- or ox-drawn carriages) and bride and groom were driving away in a brand new SUV to his village to continue the celebrations in their new home.

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