Marriage rites and ceremony in Ilorin, which is the capital city of Kwara is a very colorful and interesting affair. In Ilorin, there are different ethnic groups in this place and they have special marriage rites and ceremonies they perform that show the blend of the culture of the various ethnic group present there.
In Ilorin, once a young man has seen and identified the young girl he loves, usually through a go-between called alarina and they are both in agreement of their feelings for each other, this will lead to an agreement to get married. It is the duty of both of them to tell their parents of their intention to get married. Once the man has informed the members of his family what has transpired between him and the intended girl, the next step is for them to go and ask for the young woman’s hand in marriage.
Background Check on Bride’s Family.
Prior to asking for her hand in marriage, the young man’s family will do a thorough background check on the family of the young lady. They will also ask around to find out if the young lady is of good character. If they are satisfied with the results of these investigations, then some elder will be selected from the members of their family to go ahead and ask for the young lady’s hand in marriage.
Date Fixing for the Traditional Marriage.
After the family of the young woman receives the proposal from the family of the boy, they will deliberate on the issue and carry out some spiritual consultation on this matter so as to get a directive whether to go ahead with the marriage or not. If the consultation is favorable, the union will be approved by the family of the girl. The boy’s family will now do a thanksgiving by visiting the girl’s family with a gift of money and kola nut. This money is known as the wedding date fixing money which is called owoidajo.
The bride’s family members share the kola nut and the money and then goes on to make plans for the coming marriage. Once the date for the marriage is fixed, sweets and kola nuts are sent out as invitation for the wedding ceremony.
The Marriage Ceremony.
The marriage ceremony lasts for seven days, it begins on a Sunday and ends the following Sunday. The bride prepares for the wedding by having the traditional tattoo called laali done to beautify her for the ceremony. The day before the wedding proper, a night party is held. At this party, the main attractions are the kengbe dance and the traditional waka song. This goes on till the following morning.
On Tuesday, a tradition of pouring water in a mortar and covering it with a calabash is observed. Women are the ones to pour in this water. A drummer is also present to drum for the women where they sing and dance all day long.
A walimat ceremony is organized for the bride and groom in their respective families on Wednesday to celebrate their completion of the reading of the holy Quran. They are made to sit before their respective tutors that coached them in the reading of the holy Quran. They then proceed to recite selected chapters from it. The bride and groom then proceed to going round to their different family members accompanied by their friends and reciting chapters from the Quran. They are then given money and gifts as a show of appreciation by the family members.
On Thursday, the women from the family of the groom will come to the bride’s house shouting for their bride to be brought out to them in the name of the Prophet.
On Friday, the bride is then accompanied by members of her family, drummers and singers to the groom’s family house on horseback and with a veil covering her face. They go there bearing household items that the bride will use when she gets to her husband’s house. When she gets to the grooms family house, she alights from the horse and water is poured on her feet. A mortar is then put before her while a young man is told to pour millet in it for the bride for grind. She pounds this three times and goes inside the house. She is brought back to repeat this process three times before she is then finally taken in to be introduced to the members of her husband’s family where she then displays the household items she came with. The groom’s family then entertains the family of the bride with food that has been prepared for the wedding ceremony. Delicacies like moimoi, abula (amala, gbegiri and ewedu), eko and rice are served to all the guests.
The bride is taken to see the queen mother in her chamber on Saturday. There she is beautifully dressed in lovely attires. Her husband then comes to fetch her from there and takes her to his own house.
On Sunday morning, the bride leaves her husband’s house again to go to her own family house. When she gets there, she will be given one or two big and tight bangles to adorn her hands with. She will be given another set of these bangles to also adorn her legs with. She is then expected to wear this for a week before removing it. In the olden days, these bangles are worn by the bride for 5 months before she can remove them. She is then given gifts of some of their local delicacies like dankuwa, groundnut and sugar cane for her to take back to her husband’s house.
In recent times, marriage rites and ceremonies are now held in two days or just a single day. This is because a week long marriage ceremony costs a lot of money to organize and the economic situation does not allow for such lavish spending again.
Marriage in Ilorin is not just the union of the two spouses, but a union of both of their families. The couples are therefore proof that they are both good ambassadors of their families since they were able to pass through all the necessary stages that come before the marriage successfully.