Shooting at Dagestan Weddings: Traditions of the Past and Realities of the Present
The study aims to establish the origin of the custom of shooting firearms at weddings among the peoples of Dagestan, to determine the state of this custom at present, and to establish the degree of connection between the historical and modern characteristics of the phenomenon. The materials were the results of research by Russian ethnographers, who studied the traditional culture of the peoples of Dagestan, as well as reports from modern Russian media. When working on the study, the author adhered to a complex methodological scheme, which is based on a combination of methods of evolutionary, functional and structural analysis used in the study of ethnographic facts. It has been established that, even before the advent of firearms, sharp loud sounds were used during wedding ceremonies to protect newlyweds from evil forces. For example, participants in celebrations, using a variety of objects, made a special noise during the transfer of the bride. With the advent of firearms, the peoples of Dagestan began to use them in protecting wedding rituals which could have their own specific meaning for different peoples. It has been revealed that the studied custom, based on pre-Muslim beliefs, turned out to be stable enough to remain relevant even after the establishment of Islam. The functions of shooting at modern Dagestan weddings have been investigated. Numerous reports from the media about cases of the use of firearms during the movement of wedding corteges, including outside Dagestan (in Moscow, Stavropol), have been given. The author pays considerable attention to the negative reaction of society, which condemns the dangerous entertainment of modern youth at weddings, and notes the facts of criminal prosecution of persons who committed such offenses. In recent years, shooting at weddings is often replaced by the use of pyrotechnic devices. The author concludes that the role of firearms in traditional wedding celebrations among the peoples of Dagestan was initially associated mainly with imitative magic rituals. Currently, there is an almost complete lack of connection between the traditions that took place among the peoples of Dagestan in the past and the shooting at modern weddings. Reacting to shooting at modern weddings, the public acknowledges the loss of its original ritual meaning, characterizes it as entertainment or a manifestation of recklessness. People are generally aware of the undesirability of “exporting” the custom of shooting outside Dagestan or the North Caucasus.