After exploring the city and getting our bearings, next up on the itinerary was the Hamam or the traditional Turkish bath. The only briefing I got so far was 1) bring a bathing suit, 2) it was women only (from the BIL’s email) and 3) it’s just like a spa party only that it was going to be in a traditional bath house.
Being conservatively Asian/Filipino, I made sure it wasn’t the naked type of bath house. Issues, man! Haha. We went to the only hamam downtown to meet up with the rest of the female wedding party: the in-laws (mom, sister, cousins, aunties), plus their neighbors. Since the rest of the foreign wedding party were not due to fly in yet, we were the only foreigners there.
They decorated the bath house with tulle and lots of balloons with the Turkish evil eye printed on them.
The bridal hamam is a tradition that goes back in the old days. It was when the women of the groom’s family go to the bath house with the the bride so that they can “inspect” the bride not just on a physical level, but also on the spiritual and emotional side.
We changed into our bathing suits and gathered at the center of the hamam for some traditional dancing (which involved a lot of clapping, hand movement, and me struggling to follow the rhythm) and food. Then they told us we could go inside for the bath if we were ready.
We went into the main bath area–which was one big room with a domed ceiling, a huge marble slab in the middle, and mini bath cubicles around it. The hamam lady (a huge woman in a string bikini with two bath mitts tucked on both sides of her bottoms) will motion for you to lie down on the marble, and then she’ll scrub ALL your dead skin away. Then she’ll pull your top off and scrub your boobies too. So much for being conservative. Haha.
Before everyone changes into dry clothes, we all gathered around the bride and the moms and aunties and the single ladies would pour rose water over her and said prayers for abundance and happy marriage for her. That was the most beautiful part of the hamam 🙂
Of course, spa/bath=indulgence so we had chocolates and coffee after.
One of the aunties there could tell fortunes just by reading the bottom of our coffee cups. My mom’s and my sister’s fortunes were pretty accurate. Mine was funny. “You think too much.” Spot on.
Oh, and I had to go braless after since my sister forgot her bra and she borrowed mine. You can’t say no the bride!
Yay for traditions! 🙂 I’m happy that my sister and her husband decided to go all out on letting us experience what it’s like to married in a different culture. My mom is actually challenged to do the same when they come over to Manila for the Philippine version of the wedding!