Traditional marriages in any part of Africa are always exciting to behold. In this article, the traditional marriage rites among the Yoruba Tribe in Southwest Nigeria is our focus. Join me as we explore the colourful ceremony.
The Yoruba people are an ethnic group that inhabits western Africa, mainly Nigeria, Benin, Togo and part of Ghana. In Nigeria, they make up 21% of the country’s population, making them one of the biggest ethnic groups in Nigeria. The Yorubas are widely recognized as a people with a love for fun, good times, bustling parties and nothing but positive vibes.
When it comes to marriage, the Yoruba traditional marriage is a unique ceremony with rites, bridal list, and other requirements. Undeniably, the special way they approach and celebrate weddings has helped in earning them this status of the ultimate Nigerian party people.
The Yoruba Traditional Wedding Ceremony is also known as the Yoruba Engagement ceremony, or Igbeyawo in Yoruba. Typically, the bride’s family is responsible for covering the ceremony costs, but some families choose to split the costs as they please.
During the ceremony, everything is orchestrated by two representatives who are chosen or hired by each side of the family. The groom’s family is represented by the Alaga Iduro/ Olopa Iduro (standing policeman), while the bride’s family is represented by the Alaga Ijoko/Olopa Ijoko (sitting policeman).
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Traditional wedding ceremony in Yoruba land usually kicks off with the bride’s family seated and waiting for the groom’s family to arrive. Both the groom and bride are absent at this point. Once the groom’s family arrive, the Alaga Ijoko welcomes them at the gate in the company of the the housewives of the bride’s side of the family. The Alaga then asks the groom’s family to state their reasons for coming before collecting an entry fee from them.
Finally, she introduces them to the bride’s family before some prayers are said. After the introduction, the groom’s family kneel and prostrate before for the family of the bride. The two families then sit at opposite sides of the room, while the Alagas sit or stand in their midst.
Once seated, the Alaga Iduro presents the proposal letter to the Alaga Ijoko on behalf of the groom’s family. This letter is read out loud by a younger female representative of the bride’s family, such as the younger sister or cousin. An acceptance letter is then presented to the groom’s family before some prayers are said. When it comes to traditional marriage rites among the Yoruba tribe, they are indeed beautiful.
After the prayers, the groom dances in with some of his friends, and prostrates a total of four times, according to weddingfeferity.com. On the first two occasions, he prostrates for his new in-laws with his friends, before prostrating before them alone the third time. During this third prostration alone, the two families stretch out their arms to pray for him. Before he takes his seat, he prostrates one final time with his friends, but this time around, before his own family. He then gives out some money before taking a seat while awaiting his bride’s arrival.
Once the groom is seated, the veiled bride dances in accompanied by her parents and Ore Iyawo, who are usually some close female friends and female family members. She then kneels before her parents, who pray for her and bless her. She does the same thing with her husband’s parents, before taking off her veil and joining her husband.
The Bride dancing in
On getting to her husband, she kneels before him while prayers are said for both of them. He then gives her some money, before carrying her up for all to see. At this point, the yoruba bride puts the groom’s fila (cap) on his head to signify an accepted marriage proposal.
Once the couple is seated, the Alaga Ijoko then asks the bride to select one of the many engagement gifts (eru iyawo) brought by the groom’s family. The Eru Iyawo usually contains lots of food, and each item has some significance.
At a yoruba traditional wedding ceremony, the bride is expected to select the Bible/Quran from the Eru Iyawo. This religious book will have her engagement ring attached to it. The bride gives her husband the ring, which he places on her finger for her to display happily to everyone.The groom’s family also present the bride price and fees requested to the family of their new wife.
No yoruba traditional wedding ceremony is complete without the Engagement cake (Akara Oyibo). This special cake is crafted to depict some elements of the Yoruba culture. It usually features a talking drum, calabash, fruits or a cake topper of the bride and groom in their traditional yoruba attire. The cutting of this cake and sharing of the cake between the bride and groom is a pretty important step in the wedding .
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After cutting the cake, the bride’s family formally hand over their daughter to the groom’s father in the presence of everyone. Finally, the groom’s family come out as a group to thank their in-laws for giving out their daughter before the final prayers are said and the celebrations begin.
Indeed, the traditional marriage rites among the Yoruba Tribe in Southwest Nigeria is truly beautiful!