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Traditional weddings in Nigeria on all occasions show the diversity and richness of the Nigerian culture and style. Colourfully and lavishly planned, This event is accompanied by beautiful attires, mouthwatering dishes, blaring music and sophisticated accessories. The couple’s families get the chance to unite and interact with each other. These ceremonies though expensive are becoming a growing trend. Asides the bride price, planning and executing this ceremony can be time-consuming, expensive but Fun!
With the diverse ethnic groups in Nigeria, Different tribes and cultures, the ceremony, outfits, food and traditional rites are quite different but very well similar.
Igbo Traditional Wedding Ceremony
‘Igba Nkwu’ meaning Wine carrying is the official traditional wedding ceremony practised by the Igbos. Before getting to this stage, the groom-to-be’s family pays a visit to the Bride’s family in an act called ‘door knocking’. This is done as an act of asking the parent of the bride for her hand in marriage. The groom-to-be’s family presents Kolanut, Palmwine (local brew), dry gin and soft drinks to the bride’s family. After the purpose of visit and gifts are accepted, some families go-ahead to investigate each other for their good standing and moral standing in the society.
The Igbo women wear different styled embodied tops over two George wrappers (Akwele), a headgear (gele) and coral beads for the traditional wedding ceremony. Others use the ‘George fabric’ to make a long dress and style their heads with coral beads. The isi-agu top paired with the George wrapper, a cap, and a walking stick is worn by the men.
The main ceremony begins with lots of preparation. The food and drinks often locally made. Dishes like Ofe-Nsala, Nkwobi, Isiewu, Okpa, Pepper soup coupled with drinks like Palmwine, dry gin etc.
The Bride carries freshly tapped palm wine in a ceremony called ‘Igba Nkwu’ as she weaves through the crowd in search of her groom amidst feign distraction from the crowd of men. On getting to her groom she kneels and gives him the wine, the groom drinks up the content signifying acceptance. They proceed to dance to meet parents for prayers and formal introduction. Igbo people will most likely go back to their hometown ahead of the ceremony but these days most people would rather rent event venues and bring the culture to the city they are.
Yoruba Traditional Wedding Ceremony
The ceremony for the Yoruba traditional wedding is not just a time to unite two individuals but also an occasion for family members to unite. Vibrant colours, rich food, playful banter and much more accompanies this event. Following the formal introduction, a date is set for the engagement. The celebration moderated by two women Alaga Ijoko (representing the brides family) and Alaga Iduro (groom’s family). Traditional weddings by the Yorubas begin with the arrival of the groom’s family. The grooms family must come early or pay a fine. The groom dances in with his friends and proceeds to prostrate twice with his friends and once alone. The families stretch forth their hands to pray for the groom who prostrates once more with his friends before heading to his seat.
An elaborate proposal ‘letter’ is presented by the grooms family and read by the youngest member of the brides family. An acceptance letter is given by the brides family. The ‘veiled’ bride dances into the hall with her friends (Asoebi Ladies). She kneels before her parents then the groom’s parents for prayers. She proceeds to put the groom’s hat (Fila) on his head demonstrating her acceptance of his proposal. The bride at the instruction of the Alaga Ijoko picks a gift of Bible or Quran with a ring attached to it. The engagement cake ‘Akara Oyinbo’ symbolizes happiness due to its rich and sweet ingredients.
The Yoruba men wear an agbada a two-layered material made from aso-oke (traditional/hand-woven material), cotton, damask, lace or wax fabric (ankara). The colour combination complements the bride’s and reflects the colour chosen by his family. The bride’s outfit consists of Gele (head tie), Buba (blouse), Iro (wrapper) usually ankle length as well as accessories.
Food served in Yoruba traditional weddings
- Jollof rice and dodo (fried plantain)
- Ewedu and gbekiri
- Small chops and many more.
Hausa Traditional Wedding Ceremony
Not as time-consuming and expensive as expensive as the Igbo and Yoruba traditional wedding the Hausa wedding is simple yet elegant. The Hausas reside in the Northern part of Nigeria and are mostly Muslims. Like other culture, the grooms family goes to ask for the bride’s hands in marriage with Kolanut, fruits and sweets. Gaisuwa is the formal approval of the bride’s family. The groom is expected to pay a minimum amount of bride price Rubu Dinar meaning ‘quarter kilogram of gold’ to the highest amount he can afford. After Sadaki (payment of bride price), the families proceed to set a date (Sarana) for the occasion.
The women organize Kunshi a form of a bridal shower for the Amariya (Bride) in preparation for the wedding reception (Walimah). The wedding reception features music and dance from the locals as well as locally made dishes. A generous amount of perfumes and scented flowers are rubbed on the bride. Traditional body art (Lalei or Henna) with unique and attracting designs are applied on the bride’s arms and feet. Hausa brides wear stylish dresses or skirts and blouse made from beautifully coloured African prints. With the head properly wrapped with turbans or gele, the makeup is mostly subtle and attention is paid to the jewellery. The men wear heavily and richly embroidered caps and agbada, unlike the Yorubas.
Inter-tribal marriages also take place in Nigeria. During this, The bride’s culture is upheld till after the ring is exchanged, the couple (bride especially) switch their outfits to fit the groom’s tribe as a sign of integration.
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