6 steps to an Igbo traditional wedding ceremony

6 steps to an Igbo traditional wedding ceremony

Nigeria's Igbo people have a diverse culture that differs from community to community, indicating the specific location of each Igbo person. The customs and rituals of a traditional marriage showcase the vibrant culture and customs of the community.

In Igboland, marriage is not only a relationship between the prospective husband and wife; it also involves the parents, communities, and extended relatives.

Here are 6 steps to an Igbo traditional wedding ceremony:

Step 1: The first introduction/knocking on the door (Ikụ Aka n' Uzo)

The groom meets the bride's family after announcing his engagement to both of their families. He tells them he plans to marry their daughter and would like to bring his family to meet them. Both families get together for the first time at the bride's house on the scheduled date.

Along with a few alcoholic beverages, the groom will be escorted to the bride's house by his parents, grandparents, and other close relatives. At the same time, a few family members and the bride's parents get ready and wait for their prospective new in-laws to arrive.

The bride's family greets and gives the guests kola nuts when they arrive-this is the customary Igbo welcome gesture. The father of the groom will inform his son of his desire to visit, to which the father of the bride will respond by saying he will speak with his daughter and get back to them.

It is usual for the groom's family to attend the initial family meeting without expecting an answer.

Following the guests' departure, the bride's parents will talk with their daughter about their visitor's plan to move forward with the marriage proposal; typically, she will say yes.

Step 2: The family background investigation (Ijụ Ajụjụ)

The investigation step's main goal is to provide both families with additional information on one another through outside inquiries from individuals who are familiar with the families in the towns and villages where each family resides. The inquiry will still happen at home even if the bride and groom meet and are to get married abroad.

The two families carry out separate investigations without the bride's knowledge. Frequently, the groom begins his inquiry before making an engagement proposal and receiving an initial visit from the family.

After the initial visit to meet the groom and his family and following the family discussion with the bride, the bride's family often begins their inquiry. Even so, the bride may never find out when the inquiry is conducted.

The investigation assists the families in learning about one another's backgrounds, villages, personalities, social status, family dynamics, religious practices, general health information about the family, and even blood type.

The results of the family background check can influence and dictate the marriage's next move. Additionally, it's common for either family to decide to halt or postpone the marriage process at this point in light of the results of their research.

Step 3: The follow-up visits for the discussion of the bridal list (Ihu Isi Nwanyi)

6 steps to an Igbo traditional wedding ceremony

The families will be pleased to move forward with the marriage process once their investigations are finished and they are satisfied with their conclusions. Following that, the families will arrange a follow-up visit. The purpose of the follow-up visit is to talk about the bridal list, which is necessary for the marriage ceremony. Items from the list are what the bride's parents will get from the groom on the day of the traditional marriage ceremony-the wine-carrying ceremony.

The bride's father will summon her to come and greet the guests before the discussion of the bridal list. While the visitors are present, her father will advise the bride about their guest's marriage proposal and ask her to accept or decline. She will nod yes to accept if she is interested.

According to tradition, the groom's family must receive the Bridal List required from the bride's family. Items for the bride's parents and the Umunna, Umuada, and Umu youth-men, women, and young adults-are included in the bridal list. Items on the Bridal List include things like yam tubers (quantity varies per community), huge rice bags, a predetermined number of alcoholic beverages, and soft drinks, monetary presents, kola nuts, cows and goats, fruits, cigarettes, Head Fish of Large Stock, Onion bags, A salt bag, Bean bags, 2-3 head ties, upscale Ankaras, and George wraps, Two shoe pairs, A timepiece, One bar of soap for bathing, One huge basin, Mother's Day jewellery, Luggage bags, Handbags, Talcum powder and a tonne of other kinds of stuff.

The Bridal List varies from Igbo village community to community. The elements on the above list are primarily what you should anticipate finding on the list. However, each community's traditions will determine the precise quantity of the essential materials.

Step 4: The dowry negotiations (Ego Isi Nwanyi)

The dowry used to be a set sum of money that the bride's parents gave the groom in exchange for their daughter's hand in marriage prior to the customary wedding ceremony. Some families may not be able to negotiate the stated amount, but both families may be able to.

As required by custom, the two families will get together to talk about the size of the dowry. The two families decide on the amount of the dowry when it comes up for conversation, therefore there isn't a predefined sum.

This part of the Igbo marriage custom has gradually disappeared in some village communities due to urbanisation, while it has completely disappeared in others. These days' parents know their daughter is not for sale, so talking about the dowry is more of a symbolic conversation. Alternatively, the bride's dad might ask for a modest sum to satisfy customary obligations.

Any gift presented is added by the bride's parents to the costs of getting ready for the customary wedding ceremony that will happen at their house.

Step 5: The Traditional Wedding Ceremony (Igba Nkwụ)

The traditional wedding ceremony, held in the bride's family home with both families, friends, and well-wishers present to witness the union of the couple, is an open event and the only portion of the Igbo marriage process that the public is welcome to attend.

The bride carrying the wine from her father to find her spouse is a significant aspect of the traditional Igbo wedding ceremony, known as Igba Nkwu (The Wine Carrying Ceremony).

Furthermore, the traditional wedding ceremony holds greater significance in certain Igbo groups than the more Western-style civil or religious weddings.

The bride's family is in charge of getting ready for the customary wedding day. To attend their children's marriage, both families will invite friends, neighbours, and other well-wishers.

A large variety of Igbo dishes and beverages, music, dancing, and other festive entertainment are all part of the preparation.

The bride will choose a few of her single companions and female family members to be her Asoebi (bridal train), with assistance from her relatives. During the ceremony, these women will march with the bride wearing matching Asoebi dresses.

The bride will hide within the home during the preparations, getting ready for her big day until she is asked to come and greet the guests.

The festivities begin when the groom and his companions arrive at the bride's family house. As more guests and well-wishers come, the bride's parents and other senior family members will warmly greet the groom and his family and seat them.

The party begins with a prayer, and then the bride's family gives drinks and kola nuts to the groom's family. Following a few remarks from each family, the bride will emerge to welcome the guests.

To meet all of their guests, the bride emerges with music and dancing, escorted by her Asoebi ladies, and departs. The celebration programme goes on, serving food and beverages to the visitors and providing more entertainment. The bride will return shortly to locate and introduce her spouse to her parents.

The bride would change into a new attire, dance approach her parents with her Asoebi women, and kneel in front of her father while the groom is concealed. After reminding his daughter of the groom's and his family's intentions, her father offers her a cup of wine, or palm wine, which she is to sip before finding the man she wants to marry and giving him the remainder.

The custom requires the bride to find her fiancé, who is hiding among the guests, thus she dances among the crowd while holding a cup of wine. When she locates him, she approaches him, bows her head, and gives him the last of the drink. Accepting the drink, the groom sips it all and adds cash to the cup on behalf of his bride.

The bride brings her husband to her father for blessings while the crowd cheers her on. When they reach her father, they bow down to receive his blessings. The father bestows blessings and counsels the newlyweds.

Step 6: New home sendoff gifts by the bride's parents (Idu Ụlọ)

In Igbo tradition, the bride's parents give their newlywed daughter house presents to welcome her into her new marriage. This is known as the "New Home Sendoff Gifts."

The gifts range from monetary gifts to a car, a new home, cooking pots, air conditioning, bedding, fridges, and much more, depending on what the bride's family can afford to give their daughter.

It is the bride's parents' responsibility to give their daughter the New Home Sendoff Gifts on the night of the traditional marriage, a few days later, or after the religious wedding to help her begin her new life as a married woman.


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