Dubai: In the midst of the ongoing war in Gaza, a Palestinian couple, Mohammed Al Ghandour and his bride Shahad, have held their wedding in an unconventional yet heartfelt ceremony inside a tent near Rafah, close to the Egyptian border.
The couple’s dream of a grand wedding was altered by the realities of war. Forced to flee their homes, their celebration was a far cry from what they had initially planned.
The wedding took place in a tent adorned with colourful lamps and a golden-framed mirror, surrounded by relatives who gathered to share in their joy despite the dire circumstances.
Shahad, in a white dress and hijab embellished with traditional embroideries, raised her hand to receive her wedding ring in the makeshift venue that served as their celebration spot.
The couple confirmed the heartbreaking reality that their family homes were destroyed in Israeli shelling that killed their relatives.
Al Ghandour expressed a bittersweet sentiment, stating he felt only “3 per cent happy” but needed to show happiness for his bride.
The intended grand celebration was downscaled to a small gathering of relatives who, like them, had managed to survive and flee from Gaza to Rafah.
For a wedding feast in an enclave that the UN warns is heading towards famine, the couple had only a few snacks in plastic package, laid out carefully for them in the tent.
Shahad’s mother led a small group of women ululating in celebration of the marriage and somebody had saved batteries for a small portable music player.
Shahad’s mother, along with a few women, and music played from a small battery-powered player, bringing a semblance of festivity to the occasion.
Before the war, both families had invested over $2,000 in preparations for what they hoped would be the most significant night for the couple.
“My dream was to give Shahad the best wedding, the most beautiful in the world,” said her mother, Umm Yahia Khalifa.
“We prepared her wedding things and she was happy. But it is all gone in the shelling. Every time she remembers she starts to cry,” she said.
As the small wedding party began to clap and dance, people around them went about their daily chores among the lines of tents stretched across the sand, seeking food or hanging laundry.