Nigeria has a thriving and varied wedding scene because of its vast range of cultures and customs. There are certain similar threads in the various marriage customs performed across the nation, despite their regional variances.
Here’s an intriguing glimpse into the similarities and differences in Nigerian marriage traditions:
Family involvement: Marriage is viewed in the majority of Nigerian cultures as a union of two families rather than just two people. The couple’s incorporation into their respective communities is symbolised by the significant involvement of both families in preparing and implementing the wedding rituals.
Symbolic gift-giving: A big part of many Nigerian wedding customs is the exchange of symbolic presents. These presents, which frequently include palm wine, kola nuts, and other things, stand for gratitude, respect, and the fortification of family ties.
Vibrant celebrations: Nigerian weddings are well known for their vibrant and vivacious festivities. These celebrations, which feature lavish costumes and décor as well as upbeat music and dance performances, are a happy manifestation of love, community, and blessings for the newlyweds.
Traditional dress: Nigerian ethnic groups each have their own traditional wedding dresses that are a reflection of their own cultural identities. The clothes enhance the ceremonies with a layer of visual narrative, from the flowing agbada and gele of the Yoruba pair to the beaded elegance of the Igbo bride. The Igbo grooms usually wear a crimson-red headdress and lion-head-printed fabric called Isiagu. The hat and lion head’s colour represent Igbo culture.
Pre-wedding customs: Different cultures have different approaches to marriage. While some traditions have unique betrothal rites, others incorporate intricate courtship rituals. These pre-wedding traditions can vary greatly in duration and intricacy.
There are several fascinating traditional marriage practices in Nigeria. “Eru Iyawo,” which translates to “gifts of the bride” in Yoruba, is one such custom. As a sign of the two families’ oneness, the groom’s family customarily gives a stunning assortment of gifts to the bride’s family.
The Efik people have a distinctive custom known as “Mbobo.” The bride is pampered and sequestered for weeks before the wedding under this custom. On her special day, she receives an abundance of gifts and has oil massages applied to her skin to enhance her shine.
Before the wedding, the Kalabari community performs the important “Iya” rite. The groom’s family receives an inventory from the bride’s family that includes food, drinks, and clothing. The groom’s family shows their dedication to helping the bride by gifting these things.
The “Kwase Ku” ceremony is used by the Tiv people to commemorate their customary Nigerian weddings. When the bride’s family receives a pot of wine from the groom’s family, the two families haggle about the bride’s price. Following the talks, everyone celebrates as the couple unites in a traditional dance.
Dowry or bridal price: In many Nigerian cultures, the idea of a dowry or bridal price represents the groom’s gratitude to the wife and his promise to support her financially. But the specific tradition determines the kind and worth of the bridal fee. As a sign of respect for the bride’s parents, the groom’s family typically presents the bride’s price ahead of the wedding. In appreciation for the significant role her family played in her upbringing, the bride’s family receives gifts from the groom’s family, which may be money, furniture, food, or tangible possessions.
Wedding ceremonies: Depending on the ethnic group, wedding rituals can have different formats and sequences. While some traditions take a more organised approach, others consist of several rites spaced out across several days. The couple’s religious beliefs may also have an impact on the ceremony’s structure.
The primary ceremonial performance of an Igbo wedding is the wine-carrying ceremony, in which the bride must locate her fiancé, who is hiding among the guests. She locates him, bows, and hands him a cup of wine. After finishing his drink, he gives her some cash in the cup and helps her stand up. This ceremonial rite is not performed by other ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Also, Yoruba grooms usually prostrate, while Igbo grooms frequently kneel. In traditional Yoruba weddings, prostrating is a common way for older family members—typically the bride’s family—to be respected and revered.