One beautiful aspect of Comorian culture that still thrives today is the intriguing Grand Mariage or Anda Na Mila in Shikomori.
The “Grand Mariage (Anda)” is a cultural highlight of a visit to Comoros, where the practice is conducted publicly every year primarily between the months of July and August. Comorians often participate in the Grand Mariage celebration of their relatives. They plan to have their own Grand Mariage when they have enough money saved to pay the dowry, buy gold, and suppport other feasts and events. Grand Mariage is a time of celebration and pomp in which considerable amounts of money are spent, as much as 50,000 Euro could be spent on each wedding.
Before their Grand Mariage, a young Comorian doesn’t have the right to participate in decisions about his city or village; or be in the front row at the mosque or other public events. This shows how closely tradition is fused with politics and religion.
In fact, throughout much of August (particularly weekends), foreign visitors will likely have the opportunity to attend ceremonies and dances of exceptional interest.
These wedding ceremonies occur in the month preceding the arrival of the husband at the bridal home (HUNDJIA DAHONI), and are considered to be part of the marriage itself.
– The Madjilise
The Madjilise is the first ceremony. It is religious in nature and celebrated by men only. This is when community elders read from the Koran and set the dates for the other ceremonies of the wedding.
Beginning seven days before the final ceremony allowing the husband entry into the house, the Djaliko is always held on a Friday evening. Men are brought together to form a dance line to the beat of drums and symbols, followed by the elders in traditional hierarchical order.
Alongside this line is another made by women who sing and dance their songs to promote glory of the bridegroom.
-The Chigoma Cha Lanswiri
This dance that takes energy, flexibility and balance and also takes place on Fridays, after the afternoon prayer. The dancers wear a loincloth (Ikoyi), a sleeveless shirt (Fulana) and a turban. The dancers form a row and move advancing and retreating in a space of about five hundred square meters delimited by the spectators.
This is the most anticipated, popular and most significant of all the Grand Mariage events. It is often held on Saturday nights, the eve of the admission of the husband in the bridal house. It may involve two to three bands playing traditional music into early hours of the morning.
Comprising mostly men, it lasts until dawn and can earn millions of francs that go into the coffers full of music associations.
This is the actual wedding procession. It starts with the arrival of the groom accompanied by his mother and sister and three elders from the village. Surrounded by religious leaders, moving to the rhythm of drums and symbols, the procession stops in front of the main door of the bride. A scholar will then chant the formal call to prayer.
When the call is finished the husband can access to the house where he must immediately follow another tradition: the DJOSA-Mindu (“washing of the feet”). It consists of giving large sums of money to the family of the bride. The act of actually washing the feet of the groom is no longer done, only the financial aspect remains.
Comorians have largely kept their traditions intact and continue to celebrate with pomp big life events including: births, weddings, funerals, among others.
The traditional clothing is linked to the rules of the Aanda Na Mila in women more so than men.
Crafts are multiple and manifest in all areas. Thousands of wood craftsmen still manufacturer canoes, doors and window frames, souvenirs and furniture.
Wood-carved furniture from Comoros are some of the most remarkable examples of Comorian crafts.
Traditional arts and crafts also include embroidery, basketry, pottery, jewelery, goldsmithing and others who work with shellfish.
Anjouan dolls are also beautifully created and ideal souvenirs to remind a tourist of their time in Comoros.