In Ichida town in Anambra State and many other tribes of igbo land, the culture of traditional marriage is still practiced and maintained despite changes in choosing in a partner. There are a lot stages before the traditional marriage is done and they include the following
Traditional marriage in Igbo land is usually a flamboyant and colorful event involving a lot of stages. In the past, traditional marriages used to be arranged by parents for their children by choosing a suitable partner for them after making enquires about the person’s family background. In recent times we now see men and women allowed to choose who they will like to marry, though they must still get the consent and approval of their parents.
In Ichida town in Anambra State and many other tribes of igbo land, the culture of traditional marriage is still practiced and maintained despite changes in choosing in a partner. There are a lot stages before the traditional marriage is done and they include the following.
STAGE ONE: VISIT TO POTENTIAL IN-LAWS
When a man meets a woman he likes and wants to marry, he informs his parents of his intentions. The man then goes with his parents and other family members to the woman’s house to notify her parents or guardians of their interest and to ask for their consent to marry their daughter. When going on such a visit, the man usually takes a gift along such as wines or kolanuts to present to the woman, her parents and other family members.
When the intentions of the man has been known, the woman’s parents will usually not give an immediate answer and will tell the man’s parents to return at a later date. Before the date of the next visit, the family of the woman will take that time to look into and investigate the history and background of the man’s family. They will use the time to find out about the man’s personality what he does for a living among other issues and also extend their investigation to other members of his family.
It should also be noted that the man’s family would have done a similar check on the woman their son intends to marry before visiting her parents and making their intentions known.
STAGE TWO: ACCEPTANCE OF PROPOSAL
When both families are satisfied with their findings on each other’s background, they will meet again on the date set for a return visit. Once again the man’s family will state their intentions and will come along with more gifts this time including palm wine, dry drinks, soft drinks and other items.
At this point, the woman is called in by her family members to be part of the meeting and is told about the man’s intentions to marry her. If she accepts his proposal the gifts that were brought will be shared immediately among the family members. If for whatever reason the woman does not accept his proposal, then the meeting will come to an end and all talks about marriage will be over and done with.
In a situation where their daughter is not around because she does not live with them, the parents will tell the man’s family they will have to get in touch with them later and give them an answer. If they get a positive reaction, then proceedings will move to the next stage which is to set a bride price to be paid by the man who intends to marry their daughter.
STAGE THREE: SETTING BRIDE PRICE
Once both families have decided to be in-laws, the next stage involves the woman’s family setting a bride price which they feel is befitting of their daughter to be paid by her husband to be.
In Inchida town, bride price is not that high when compared to other tribes in the Eastern part of the country. Also what the man will be asked to pay in terms of cash or goods or both may vary from family to family.
It should be noted that setting a bride price does not mean the parents of the girl plan to sell off their daughter, far from it, the bride price just indicates that they appreciate their daughter as whatever is paid cannot be said to be the value of their daughter.
With that stated, there are times when the bride price is negotiated especially if the man and his family feel they may have been asked to pay a lot of money or present a lot of goods or both.
The family of the woman may set a high bride price if they feel their daughter has accomplished a lot in life or if she is well educated and has a good job. They can also set a high bride price if they feel she has been brought up and raised properly by them and has the virtues every man looks for in a wife.
On the other hand, the man’s family will also present their own case by presenting their son as a man worthy to take care of any woman as his wife. They can also present other attributes that the man possesses to state their case for a reduction of the bride price.
This can go on for some time before a price is finally agreed. Once the bride price has been agreed then the date for the traditional wedding ceremony is set.
In some cases before the traditional wedding the woman may spend some time in the man’s home. Also the woman’s family could pay a visit to the man’s home to see where their daughter will be staying.
Also the woman’s family could buy items for the couple such as clothes, cooking utensils, materials, household equipment and lots more to help ease the burden of starting married life for the couple.
After the bride price has been set and agreed, the man proceeds to print invitation cards for the ceremony as well as choose outfits to be worn on the day.
STAGE FOUR: THE TRADITIONAL WEDDING CEREMONY
The traditional wedding ceremony is usually a fun filled event with a lot of happy faces, people gorgeously dressed with a lot of good food to eat and lovely music to listen and dance to. Both families usually cook to entertain their guests and the ceremony usually takes place in the compound of the bride’s father.
A major aspect of the traditional wedding is the wine carrying part. This is an aspect of the traditional wedding ceremony most brides will never forget and even the groom as it ignites a lot of fun and excitement.
The bride is given a cup of palm wine by her father or a male member in her family. She is then told in front of the guests that they do not know who her husband is and will like her to fish him out for all to see and present him with the cup of wine.
At this point in time the groom would be hiding among the guests as part of the fun to make it difficult for his wife to locate him. When the wife finally finds her husband, she will kneel down before him and a take a sip of the wine and give him the rest to drink which he will finish.
When this is done the couple then sits together for the rest of the ceremony. Afterwards the parents and members of each family will pray for the couple and the success of their marriage. At this point the event winds down with the couple dancing together which brings an end to the event with the bride going home with her husband.
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