The Candle Dance

by Weam Namou

Weddings in the Middle East vary from country to country and even village to village. While the majority include Arabic songs, belly dancing and the depka (a line dance), each region has its own traditional dances, songs, and in some cases, their own language.

Yesterday I attended my friend’s Palestinian wedding. It was quite beautiful, held at a banquet center with an elegant décor, delicious cuisine, and a panoramic view of its lake and golf course. Towards the end of the party, luckily before we decided to leave, we got to witness the candle dance.

The candle dance is a procession of women led by the bride. She enters the banquet hall, accompanied by her mother and mother-in-law, walks to the dancing floor and takes turn sharing the candle dance with the women who love and support her.

I tried to research the history and symbolism of this dance. The only thing I found is this from the book “La Milenaria Danza del Vientre, el lenguaje oculto… de Amir Thaleb.”

“This dance was inherited from ancient rites and ceremonies that took place in sealed religious temples, the lighting of the candles have a purely mystical significance and is a way to provide spiritual light to the various events and deities. Today this dance is usually performed at weddings or baptisms as being a symbolic way of illuminating the newly betrothed or newborn in his new path to take.”

Amir Thalbe adds that “in all these dances, dating back many millennia ago it is impossible to define them in their real meaning.”

Well, as long as they are kept alive, those watching and participating in these sacred rituals can make their own definitions and meanings out of them.

Candle Dance