Traditional marriage ceremony in my place is an interesting ceremony. I hail from the eastern part of Nigeria, particularly from Ezeagu Local Government in Enugu State.
The Ceremony is done at the Bride’s father’s residence. It usually involves the Kindred, their wives, the young men and the young women gathering.
Prior to this ceremony, there are several preliminary events that are to be done. Firstly, the nkutuaka ceremony popularly known as the introduction. This is basically the declaration of interest by the prospective groom of his intentions to marry the woman from the visited family.
This is followed by the “Npata mmanya izizi, nke ibuo na nke ito”. Basically this is the tri-visitation of the groom and his family to that of the bride. These visits constitutes the whole discussions, deliberations and subsequent conclusion about the marriage. Ideally, these visits are made so as to give the both families a chance to interact and know each. At the time of the third visit, the bride is sometimes allowed to go and visit the groom and his family. This depends on if the marriage is still to be continued. All these visits are accompanied by lots of feasting. The groom also provides lots of drinks, women clothing and a lot of other things traditionally required for him to fulfil.
Moving forward, by the time the third visit ends, and the bride with her family gives their consent, the traditional marriage plans commences. Ideally, the traditional marriage is to be in four market days from the last visit.
On the day of the traditional marriage ceremony, the groom is to come with his whole family, nuclear and extended alike. He will also bring lots of drinks, soap, snuff, coconut, kolanut, goat or ram and many other things. These items are village specific and so differs across the terrain.
The bride on her own part prepares at her father’s residence. The kindred gathers to inspect what has been brought by the groom. The bride price payment is usually done on this day. The bride also appears three times during the ceremony before she is handed over to the groom.
The first appearance is to salute the prospective in-laws. This time she usually accompanied by her mum or siblings or very close relative. She dances around and waves with her “nza” as she utters words of greetings.
The second appearance is called “izu Ahia” or “ire akwa” in some places. This time the bride showcases her industrious and entrepreneurial skills as she sells her goods. These goods ranges from eggs to women clothes to staple food. On this day, it is merely a symbolic ceremony which the outcome doesn’t affect the completion of the marriage.
The third and final appearance is the time the bride receives blessings and with a cup of palm wine, is asked to show publicly who her husband is. At this point, she identifies her husband who after drinking the palm wine to signify acceptance, he goes with his bride to the bride’s family for blessings. This time, the parents of the bride officially hands over the bride to the groom. They also pray and bless the marriage according to their faith. At this point, the feasting is top gear as the marriage comes to an end.