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(Sample programme A) Marriage Under Customary Law in Great Benin

Last Update (July 9, 2020)

(1) The family members of the Bride are seated.

(2) Invited Guests arrive.

(3) Arrival of the Groom, his family, and friends, with spokesman or intermediary (family guide)

(4) Formal welcome of the Groom’s party by the father of the Bride-to-be. This is done by the presentation to them of Kola nuts and drinks. Both sides of the family and guests (GROOM’s and BRIBE’S) are formally introduced
Celebration of the marriage

(5) Before settling down to enjoy the hospitality of their host the spokesman of the. Groom’s family states briefly the purpose of their visit to the Bride’s family home.

(6) After this declaration, the. Groom’s family accepts the kola nuts and drinks, and prays with the items, invoking success upon the day’s proceedings, and wishing blessings upon everybody present.

(7) The kola nut and drinks are shared amongst all those present guests, invitees and hosts

(8) The Groom’s family, invitees and hosts in reciprocation, presents kola nuts and drinks to the family and re-states the reason for their visit.

(9) Before accepting this hospitality the Bride’s family announces that it has been blessed by providence, at that point in time with a numbers of eligible marriageable maidens as daughters. The family would like to know which one amongst de delectable daughter of the household the supplicants would like to be given as a wife. Names description etc. given.

(10) There is a parade of the household’s eligible maidens usually three daughters are paraded, one after the other.

(11) The Groom’s family, with joy, identifies the Bride to be. The Bride-to-be then sits with her own family.

(12) The Groom-to be is asked to come forward for introduction to the Bride’s family.

(13) The Bride confirms the identity of the Groom. She signifies her willingness to accept him as her husband by rising and touching him on his shoulder.

(14) The Groom’s family, now confident of success in their mission re-states their desire and their request.

(15) The Bride’s family announces its consent to the visitors’ request, and then gives formal approval that the marriage rites should precede.

(16) The Groom’s family, exhilarated with joy at the success of their mission gives heart-felt thanks to the Bride’s family. Thanksgiving is done on one’s knees according to custom. . .

(17) The Groom’s representatives go to an adjoining room to present gifts to the IBIEGUAE, the young men and adolescents of the Bride’s household. (This is in recognition of the Ibieguae’s role in chaperoning the Bride to maturity, and protecting her from the possible harassment of the neighborhood Youngman as she grew up. It is also gratitude to the household during the period of courtship)

(18) The representatives announce formally that they have successfully “seen” the Ibieguae. Then they go out again, this time to present other sets of gifts (money) to the Bride’s mother.

(19)The leader of the IBIEGUAE, (youth) and after him the Bride’s mother, comes in to confirm satisfaction with, and acceptance of the gifts offered them.

(20) Payment of the Bride Price is negotiated. The Bride Price is presented by the Groom’s family in suitably covered Chinaware, and is accepted by the Bride’s family. (The four divisions of the Bride s family will after the ceremony receive its own share of the Bride Price.

(21)The ceremony of the “IGBERIGUE”(kneel and receive your blessing). The Groom’s family asks that the marriage be confirmed by the ceremony of the ”Igberigue”, For this ceremony the Groom’s family presents a fee, four kola nuts and choice wine

(22) The Groom kneels down at his father’s feet backing him. The Groom’s father, who remains standing, supports his son by placing both his hands on the Groom’s shoulders,

(23) The Groom’s first name is called out SIX times by the OKAEGBEE (Head) of the Bride’s family. The Groom does not respond to any of the SIX calls

(24)The Groom’s name is called the SEVENTH time by the Bride’s father.

(25) This time the Groom answers loudly: “HEE YOO!”, which means: Here I am “
(26)The Bride’s father then says to the Groom: “I give you, from this day forth, my daughter (name) in marriage”. There is a shout of approbation by all present.

(27) The Bride kneels before her father who prays for, and blesses her. He reminds her that, from this day, her family salutation, the “UKHU” which has been her lineage identification since birth was no more available for her use as a married woman. Henceforth her husband’s “UKHU”, and therefore that of her own children, was her new family salutation.

(28) The Bride’s father takes the Bride by the-hand and sits her ceremonially on the lap of the Groom’s father, in the final act of surrendering his daughter to the family of the Groom. The magic number of seven also comes into play here.) For this, a fee is charged which is not part of the Bride Price.

(29)The Groom’s father in turn proceeds to sit the Bride ceremonially on the lap of his son, triumphant at succeeding in sourcing for a partner for his son. He too prays for the newly wedded couple. There is no more counting.

(30)The Bride thereafter sits on a chair, side the Groom, her husband.

(31) .The Groom’s family presents full list of items “Thank you” gifts, in the form of kola nuts and
drinks. included in the items are a bowl of coconut slicing, and a jug of sweet palm wine, tubers of yam, bush meat, salt etc. Some of the items (coconut and Palm wine) are shared round. to all present..

(32) Merriment: Food and drinks, provided .by the Bride’s parents, are served round. Dance music is provided, and the newly married. Couple dance, together, to the joy and ‘accompaniment of all.

(¡) Edo (Benin) Bridal. Songs rendered by the families or special cultural group commence and accompany the Marriage proceedings throughout the duration of the ceremony.

(¡¡) On a separate day, choosing a suitable market day, the bride will be dispatched or led in a procession to the Bridegroom’s residence.

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