An Afghan Wedding in Carlisle


Sameer and Tamana always dreamed of a traditional Afghan wedding, which according to Sameer, is like an Indian wedding on steroids — with days of celebration and a month long “honeymoon”— whereby the newly married make the rounds to visit relatives during their first 30 days of marriage. But as the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban accelerated last summer, the couple married quickly in a civil ceremony. On Sunday, May 8, the new Carlisle residents staged a “do-over” at Biddle Mission Park with the bride bedecked in the requisite traditional white wedding gown and groom in a black suit. They even enjoyed the presence of Sameer’s sisters Husna and Shazia, niece and brother-in-law—all of whom were evacuated with other Afghan refugees who now live in Carlisle.

About 25 other guests—Church World Service (CWS) staff and volunteers, as well as other area residents—enjoyed the processional on a short path strewn with rose petals and the traditional sight of the bride and groom feeding each other slices of wedding cake.

Sameer and Tamana, two clients of CWS Harrisburg, had experienced many threats and challenges in Afghanistan before arriving in the United States in November. In February, they left their temporary quarters at Fort Dix in New Jersey to journey to central Pennsylvania. Before leaving Afghanistan, Sameer spent eight years assisting the U.S. military. He’s a graduate of the Officers Training Academy in Chennai, India. Tamana received a biology degree from the University of Kabul.

In a nation where most marriages are arranged by parents and family, Sameer and Tamana’s relationship was “a love match,” according to Sameer’s sister Husna, another CWS client. “They have loved each other for 10 years,” she added. Now the couple, newly employed at the Carlisle Chick-Fil-A, have another joy awaiting. Their first child is anticipated in September. Sameer & Tamana are just two among 100 Afghan refugees who now make their home in Carlisle. Most are sponsored by the newly opened CWS office in Harrisburg or the International Service Center in Harrisburg.

For more information for how you can help, contact Durre Sharif at 717-466-3252.