Weddings in the Cape Muslim community are a multi-layered celebration of culture, emotion and tradition. Under the title, The Wedding Salawaat, this rich heritage has been displayed in a timestamp exhibit as captured by local photographer Rizqua Barnes.
The stills depict the bride and groom’s traditional attire, the family’s warm embraces, the processions and entourage of hajjis (elderly women in the community), and the collective prayer known as the salawaat that offers blessings and remembrance of Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings upon him). The salawaat has customary become the cornerstone to usher the newlyweds to their ‘happily married ever after’.
“As a photographer it is important not just to shoot a wedding but to get connected with the family because you’re the only one that is capturing what they spent on at that wedding,” said Barnes on wedding photography.
Having been 13 years in the industry, the spark began after photographing and printing the first wedding album and seeing the expressions. “I want to be the one to capture this of everybody.”
The choice for black and white photos was to remove any distractions and convey the moment in its purest form.
While the traditions to be kept beyond memory is a growing concern among the Cape Malay community, there is hope with awareness raised in such frequented spaces.
“I think that the new generation lacks a lot of culture. So, people are growing up without tradition and culture from before. If we have exhibitions like this, it will keep it going and we will not forget,” said a youth attendee.
OCTH is working on several exhibitions to decolonise spaces of exclusivity and increase the accessibility to culture. Two other exhibitions are planned for August and December in the hope of bringing communities together and highlighting traditions.