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

Last Update (July 9, 2020)

(1) Bride’s family members, friends and relations already seated welcome the bridegroom’s family members and entourage to their seats. General opening prayers may be offered, followed by introductions.

(2) Bride’s family spokesman formally, welcomes the bridegroom’s party on behalf of the bride’s father, presents kola nuts and drinks to them.

(3) Acknowleging the hospitality, the spokesman for the visitors (Bridegroom’s family) precede first, to state briefly, the general purpose of their mission. Bride’s family spokesman encourages them to break the kola nuts, drink and feel welcome.
Celebration of the marriage

4.The leader of bridegroom’s family prays over the kola nuts and drinks for continued Well-being and progress of both families and all those present; and for the success of their mission.

5. Distribution of the kola nuts, and serving of the drinks presented by Bride’s family; some kola nuts and drinks are kept by the bridegroom’s party.

6. Presenting gifts of kola nuts and drinks, the bridegroom ‘s family through their leader or spokesman makes formal statement on the specific purpose of their mission, namely, to enter into marriage with their daughter, names (mentioned) and that it be favorably considered. ‘Bride’s family spokesman notes the gifts of kola nuts and drinks and consults with their family leadership. Bride’s family spokesman is told to find out from the bridegroom s family, the person proposing to marry their daughter. Bridegroom’s father or family leader states that the person is one of their sons, mentions his name and presents him to the audience. The bridegroom is ushered in with praises, singing and clapping of hands. He is introduced, welcomed by the bride’s family, and asked to sit down. He sits with his own family members at this stage.

7.Bride’s family spokesman speak to the family of the  Bridegroom about the many beautiful and eligible daughters in the bride’s family He adds that there are many daughters coincidentally bearing the names mentioned. He asks whether or not the bridegroom and his family members can identify the particular one they want to marry. Bridegroom’s family members reply that they can always identify their bride-To-be, anywhere, anytime
Two or three well-dressed and veiled ladies are ushered-in, one at a time by a group of women, singing, clapping their hands and playing musical instruments (if any)The Bridegrooms family members and entourage watch attentively with joy and admiration as the bridal escort moves into the centre of the marriage venue. Each lady ushered-in is unveiled by the leader of the bridal escort but the Bridegroom’s family responds that each unveiled lady is not the bride until the real bridal train finally leads the proposed bride to the centre of the venue and the bridegroom identifies bride and his family loudly acclaims her amidst songs and jubilation.
Bridal escorts withdraw, leaving the Bride who standing by her family members.

8. The bride still standing her father tells her the reason for the assembly of persons and ask her whether or not she approves of continuing with the proceeding. Following her consent and approval, Bride’s father stresses the importance of making an appropriate choice of husband, ending it with the Benin Saying.
“Aiye Omo yo ron nwen na we rhe re” Meaning, We do not  We do not give a daughter out in marriage, and ask her to go and return sooner or later The Bride confirms her choice, identifies her proposed husband before the assembly.
Upon declaration of mutual love the takes her seat with her family, while the Bridegroom returns to his seat with his family also.

9.Bride’s family spokesman authorized by the family leadership announces the acceptance of the gifts earlier presented. Bridegroom’s father members and entourage receive the acceptance joyfully (In this celebration, expression of gratitude and the making of request by the wife seekers are customarily accompanied by kneeling and humble disposition).

10. The Bride’s father or leader (Okaegbee) of the bride’s .family prays over the gifts of kola nuts and drinks, the kola nuts and drinks are served to all present. . .
11.The Bridegroom’s family requests in the customary way their wish and the Bride’s family ask if they have fully prepared themselves for the marriage ceremony otherwise, it could be done later and appointment made to that effect. The suitors - Bridegroom’s family happily announces their preparedness.

12. Bride’s family spokesman invites the family of the bridegroom to see and settle the bride’s mother and the youth of the household (IBIEGUA), if they have not done so.
A group of three or four members (men and women) of the bridegroom’s family depart the venue with an escort to seek audience with the youths (IBIEGUA) and the bride’s mother respectively. The bride’s spokesman invites representative of the youths to report if they have been met satisfactorily. Two representatives of the youths report and declare their satisfaction. Bride’s mother is invited to report also if she had been “seen” by the bridegroom’s family and whether she is satisfied. Bride’s mother declares her satisfaction Bride’s family, satisfied that all interested parties endorse the union of the Bride and the Bridegroom, convey their consent through the spokesman for the union of the two. Family of the bridegroom overwhelmed, thankfully kneeling, expresses their joy with the presentation of kola nuts and assorted drinks. They humbly request that the marriage be undertaken at once Bride’s family may agree

13. Bride’s family through their spokesman announces an amount of money as the Bride price He invites the bridegroom’s family to present this amount and ah other gifts, which they have brought. Bridegroom’s family presents the money in a covered bowl and the traditional gifts they have brought with it at the centre of the venue for the marriage. They plead for the acceptance of the money and the goods, stating that there can be no sufficient money and gifts for a Bride price Bride’s family spokesman takes a look at the items, and takes the covered bowl containing the money to consult with family leaders.
Bride’s family accepts the Bride ‘price and the traditions marriage gafts. Out of the requited Bride Price placed in the bowl, the bride‘s family takes the customary sum as the Bride pride  and return  balance stating that the returned amount represents the bride’s family contribution to the up keep Of the new couple. Bridegroom’s family members thank the bride’s family kneeling in the customary way for the great love and kindness shown to them and to their son.

14. The father of the bride exhorts the bridegroom, his parents and family members to take good care of their wife.

15. Bride s family’s spokesman calls out the bridegroom. Bridegroom is asked to kneel down in front of his family. The father of the bridegroom stands behind him placing his hands on his shoulders. Bride’s family spokesman instructs the bridegroom that his first name will be called six times by a member of the bride’s family but he should not answer until the seventh time when his name will be called by the bride’s father. To his seventh call he shall answer “EEYOO” i.e. here I am.
At the bridegroom answering ‘EE YOO’ to the Seventh call, the bride’s father pronounces the bride and the bridegroom to be husband and wife, saying as follows:
I ye ovbirnwen nuen. Tu wag ha dia ron mwen egbe wa ghi mi idobo ......... and other
Suitable prayers. To this, all will say lse (Amen) and the
Bridegroom’s family will show their gratitude in the customary way in kneeling postures and present further thank-you gifts. The bridegroom is led to a specials eat by the-side Of the bride.

16. The bride’s father prays for the bride and takes her by the hand and places her on the lap of the bridegroom s father on the count of SEVEN. Bridegroom’s father prays for the bride and then places her on his son’s lap once and for keeps; she later sits on a-chair next to her husband. Bride’s head of family (Okaegbee) prays for the newly married couple over the kola nuts, coconut slices, and palm wine earlier presented by the family of the bridegroom the newly married couple tastes of each items. Other senior members of the families may also join in praying for the couple.

17. Bride and groom meet relations, friends and well wishers . . .

18. Refreshment and merriment continue with.... Dance, dance, dance.

NOTE: A separate date will be chosen for the Bride to be led in formal procession to the husband’s home.

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