Celebrating love and tradition in Babil

In Sha’ban, Iraqi families embrace heritage and wedding preparations

In Babil, Iraq, Sha’ban is a joyful month, celebrated with engagements and weddings, partly because it features the birthdays of several of the Twelve Imams—key religious figures in Shia Islam—and comes just before Ramadan, making it a prime time for festivities along with Rabi’ al-Awwal, after the mourning period of Muharram and Safar.

In Al-Hilla, as in many Iraqi cities, a key wedding tradition is the “Bride’s Tray,” filled with items symbolizing the bride’s readiness and skills. This tradition fuels a competitive market among local shops, which offer these trays for as little as 50 dollars, compared to online prices of up to 200 dollars. This market tradition not only saves money but also preserves the communal joy of families coming together to prepare for the wedding.

Meethem Hamza, a shop owner in Hilla, notes that demand for wedding supplies spikes in Sha’ban due to the high number of weddings, incorporating modern designs into traditional items, making them affordable for more families. Muntather Al-Bayati adds that the wedding items, including trays and decorative pieces, are mostly imported but are given personal touches locally.

Um Layth, a homemaker, points out that preparing “bridal trays” is a crucial tradition, showcasing the bride’s dedication and prowess in household management, highlighting the blend of heritage and individual expression in these celebrations.