THE YORUBA TRADITIONAL WEDDING
The Yoruba culture of western Nigeria is full of folklore, colour, and pageantry. People are inventing clever ways to combine old traditions with more modern trends. Having the advantage of being exposed to western ideas, Yoruba people integrate modern customs into their traditional marriage ceremonies. The Yoruba traditional marriage ceremony, though a serious affair, is full of playfulness, rich contemporary Nigerian music, graceful colours, and sumptuous meals. Weddings are occasions to show best outfits, handbags, jewellery, and even dancing styles.The traditional wedding is an occasion to alleviate the drudgery of normal life and are greatly anticipated by friends and well-wishers
There are different stages of the Yoruba traditional wedding
The customs and tradition rule the bigger part of the ceremony. Long before any engagement ceremony takes place, the groom visits the family of the bride in the company of his father and some family members. The occasion is an informal introduction without fanfare but has a cordial atmosphere so they can get to know one another better. This unofficial introduction does not demand a lot of effort, except for offering a few bottles of wine and some tubers of yam and so on. The bride’s family usually welcomes the visitors with some soft drinks and a simple meal and Sometimes family members from both sides also cook additional meals to entertain their immediate guests, such as neighbours and family friends.Both families would then discuss and decide on the wedding date. This is not a hard and fast rule, and such discussions might take place later.
PREPARATION OF ENGAGEMENT CARD: When the date is chosen, the groom and bride prepare an engagement card that is addressed to both families. This special card usually includes the name of bride and groom, the date of the wedding, RSVP information, the venue or venues, and the wedding’s colour code. For example, the bride’s family can choose a different colour code from the groom’s family and friends. This way, each family will be represented by a different colour. As for the venue, it can be chosen by the couple or the bride’s family. One interesting thing about choosing a venue is that it is usually a compromise between both families.
WEDDING VENUE: The venue could be an event centre, a large hall, an open canopy, or an open field. The decoration is contracted to an events planner, whose job is to interpret the colours chosen by using decorations to complement the joyful union. The list of the guests may be up to 250 people or even more, so proper consideration of seating arrangements, cutlery, and decorations are of great importance. Decorations usually consist of floral arrangements, coloured balloons, tapestries of both colour schemes, white tablecloths, and chairs covered in lace and ceremonial colours. The planner decorates the high table for dignitaries and places two prominent chairs in front of the crowd for the bride and groom. Other features could include flower vases and cutlery.
YORUBA TRADITIONAL WEDDING CUISINE:
A festive table and wedding menu are the main aspects of the wedding. By the way, both families can take part in this wedding area. It should be professionally contracted to caterers as they will be able to make assorted meals including such traditional dishes as moin moin (beans that have been washed, grounded, and steamed) and jollof rice. As for the meals, it could be fried or roasted chicken. Also, there can be fresh fish, fried meat, and catfish as well as small chops like meat pies and sausages. By the way, the main attraction is the wedding cake. But other treats like chin chin, small cakes, and other small traditional delicacies can be served. When it comes to the drinks, it’s usually the caterers’ responsibility. They should refrigerate drinks and serve the guests. The drinks could be of different types, for example, punch, alcohol, brandy, juice, fine wines, bottled water and mineral water.
The bride’s outfit is a reflection of what the female guests will wear. She might choose damask, lace, Nigerian wax fabric, or any fabric that appeals to her. Her attire usually consists of the Buba (a loose-fitting top), Gele (the head tie), and an Iro, which is a large, ankle-length piece of fabric knotted around her waist. When it comes to the Yoruba traditional wedding colours, they could be coral, white, or gold. these days, it has become very popular to mix colours, for example, white-blue-gold, yellow-violet-gold, white-coral-green, etc. The Yoruba bride usually goes with the one that reflects the colour theme her family has chosen, but it should also blend perfectly with the groom’s outfit and look gorgeous.She can wear accessories like gold chains, beads, bangles, gold earrings, and shoes to match. Yoruba bride always has the perfect makeup, that finishes off her gorgeous look. The groom could decide to wear an Agbada, which is a two-layered piece of material of heavy dimensions like the aso oke. It might be cotton and damask or he might wear lace, wax fabric (Ankara). The colour combination should complement the bride’s and reflect the colour his family has chosen.
BRIDE AND GROOM: Some of the engagement protocols officiated by the Alaga ijoko are carried out in the absence of the groom. The professionals go through a question and answer format, where the bride’s moderator puts the representatives of the groom through some hoops. At one point the groom’s presence is needed and he comes forward to be introduced to the bride’s family and parents.
When all requirements are met, the groom is allowed to sit in one of the two large chairs conspicuously placed in from of the guests. The chairs are artfully decorated in the ceremonial colours chosen by the wedding planner.
The bride is then heralded into the hall, followed by her friends and bridesmaids. This is another example of similarity with western culture, the difference being that the ladies wear ethnic outfits like buba and IRO and join in a boisterous dance down the hall. The bride also goes through a few protocols, but money is only given to her and not taken, as in the case of the groom.
She is introduced to the groom’s family and assumes her place beside the groom. At this stage, they may consider themselves married. The wife feeds the groom some cake and wine and even gives him a kiss, to the amusement of the guests.
Yoruba traditional wedding entertainment and cake When it comes to the entertainment, there is usually a master of the ceremony, which could be a member of the family or a professional. This master of the wedding ceremony usually coordinates the entertainment by representing the DJ or live band and follows the pre-planned programme. All that is left is to feast, dance, and be merry. According to the Yoruba wedding traditions, the bride should choose the cake. Usually, she finds the right one that blends with the wedding theme. Actually, it can be made of chocolate or a multi-levelled butter with regular icing-sugar. Also, Yoruba traditional wedding cake could have little statuettes of the couple or a simple inscription. One of the main traditions of the wedding is cutting the cake. Also, an integral part of the wedding is the presentation of gifts. Usually, among the common gifts are golden wrist watches, gold earrings, wax fabric, alligator pepper, bitter kola, kolanut, a bag of rice, a bag of salt, and and even a cow ( nowadays this gift can be substituted with the money equivalent). Well, as you can see, Yoruba traditional wedding ceremony in Nigeria is very amazing and gorgeous. Among all the varieties of Nigerian weddings, it seemed to be the most exciting and colourful. It has so many traditions, which will bring joy and make every participant happy.
IGBO TRADITIONAL WEDDING
THE IGBO TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE STAGES
The Igbo traditional marriage ceremony is in various stages, but they can be done a few days apart(it depends on when the groom gets the engagement gifts ready).
PROPOSAL/ENQUIRY(IKU AKA OR IJU ESE): According to the Igbo custom, the groom is required to ask his in-laws for the customary engagement list. If your prospective father-in-law is alive, he is the one to ask; if not you can ask your fiancee’s mother, she would then ask for it from the elders in the village. According to the Igbo custom, the groom is required to ask his in-laws for the customary engagement list. If your prospective father-in-law is alive, he is the one to ask; if not you can ask your fiancee’s mother, she would then ask for it from the elders in the village.
CONSENT FROM HER UMUNNA(EXTENDED FAMILY): Before a man marries an Igbo woman, he must seek for her hand in marriage from her parents as well as her Umunna(her extended family, represented by the elders). The western style marriage proposal does not count her ‘yes’ to the groom, you still have to ask her parents as well as her kindred in her hometown for her hand in marriage in accordance with the Igbo custom and tradition.
THE DOWRY/ BRIDE PRICE PAYMENT(IME EGO): the groom will have to pay the ransom, which is growing every year. For many young people from the Igbo tribe, it has become an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, as the asked amount of money is often very huge. The poor Nigerian boyfriend and his family often cannot afford such sum. In connection with the situation, some leaders of Nigerian cities have introduced a fixed amount of a ransom that has helped a lot of young people to start a family. Igbo traditional wedding – customs and stages The man behind the bride must bring a ransom and this is not just a formality. The bride’s parents have the right to ask any price for the bride and groom then has to decide he will be able to pay it all or not. It often happens that young couple already lives together and has children, and the man still pays the dowry for his wife. While he is paying the children belong to the woman and her family. If the bride-price has not been paid and appropriate wedding rituals have not been made, such a union has no power even if they have given birth to 20 children. Igbo woman may be given to another man, and then the children will belong to her new husband because he has done everything by the rules of Igbo people. Once the groom’s family pays bride’s price, it means they are her owners.
WINE CARRYING CEREMONY (IGBA NKWU NWANYI):
During the traditional wedding ceremony, the bride’s father must give the bride some wooden cup which is filled with palm wine. At the same time, the groom must find a spot somewhere among the guests. The bride must find her husband in the huge crowd while all the guests try to distract a lady. Once the bride finds her beloved one, she gives him the cup with palm wine as a symbol of her loyalty and love. After that, the cup is returned to the bride’s parents who then should bless this marriage and also proclaim them a wife and a husband.
Besides the stages of the traditional marriage, there are also some eye-catching part of the ceremony
BRIDE AND GROOM’S ATTIRE:
The couple may wear traditional costumes or the usual formal suit for the groom and a snow-white wedding dress with a veil for the bride. The traditional bride’s attire always includes gel and a lot of accessories. Igbo native attire is very stylish and colourful. So no wonder, Igbo brides love bright colours which look very nice at such a romantic event. The look must be eye-catching, but still very elegant. The bride and the groom may display the most expensive fabrics and luxurious designs.
WEDDING DECORATIONS: The restaurant, hotel, and house of parents must be properly prepared for the wedding. The bright colours symbolize happiness and success of the couple. So there are a lot of beautiful bright clothes all around. People decorate tables and walls with flowers, photos of the spouses and fruits.
After the guests are invited to the wedding banquet. The most popular dishes on the Nigerian wedding are seafood, meat, chicken, and fish, which are prepared with the use of many spices. Garnish can be potatoes, fried rice with vegetables, or the local yam. Igbo traditional wedding – customs and stages Also, you can often find a dish called Moya-Moya on the Igbo wedding. It is a casserole of beans, eggs, and smoked fish, which is prepared in the young palm leaves, and fried banana. The soups are popular too, but they are not served at the beginning of the feast, as it is in Europe, but at the end. For dessert, people usually serve fruit – pineapple, banana, papaya and so on. Nigerians do not abuse alcohol, so even at weddings, they prefer low-alcohol beer, which is served with slices of fried beef on the open fire in the peanut butter and spices.
Igbo wedding is a beautiful event with numerous traditions and customs.
Dupe Adeyemi(@mhizz_henrietta) for OW