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Significance Of Market Days ‘(edeki) In
Traditional Or Customary Marriage Celebration

Last Update (July 9, 2020)

As the Gregorian calendar provides for SEVEN days in a week, so the Great Benin tradition provides for FOUR DAYS (EDE) in rotation namely, AHO (AGBADO), EKEN, ORRIE (EKIOBA), and OKUO (EKEN’AKA). .
These FOUR also represent the Principal Market Days and the FOUR Cardinal Points

Of these, Eken is regarded as the SABBATH DAY or the day set aside for rest, for household chores, and for holding communal functions or town/village meetings. It is not quite so pronounced in modern days in the CITY as it is in the villages where people are obliged to stay at home and EKEN days fall on a Saturday or on a Sunday, it is usually double observance and important issues for communal considerations are slated for such days to enable visitors to attend. Strictly speaking, burials and marriages are done outside of EKEN days and traditional Benin families stick rigidly to this custom. Even when it is Christian burial or Christian marriage rites, efforts are made to avoid Eken, which is similar to the Jewish observance of the Sabbath.

In his celebrated Book “Benin Law and Custom”, Jacob U. Egliarevba while dwelling principally on the historical foundation of the two main markets in the CITY OF BENIN, Eki-Oba and Eki-Agbado also touched on the general significance of market days in Benin Kingdom or Edo-land (OtoEdo). He emphasizes that the luckiest of the market days is OBA MARKET DAY i.e. EKIOBA and as such, Oba Market days are often chosen for important functions in the land such as conferment of titles, marriages, the foundation of new buildings etc. For customary burial ceremonies, annual traditional ceremonies and other observances, market days do play very significant part in their planning and ceremonials. The commencement, rather than the climax and closing ceremonies must be observed on a particularly auspicious market day for the success of such ceremonies. The next in order of lucky days is AGBADO MARKET day Outside of these two- EKIOBAAND AGBADO, it is not propitious to fix a day for marriage under the Benin Customary Law and observance Agbado market day is the same day that the popular Ikpoba Hill market holds in the City in modern times in fact, any one fixing a ceremony outside of the favorable market days will be regarded as not only violating the tradition but taking some risks also, as each day has been set aside for specific purposes and dedicated as such. So it has been observed even in modern times, that when traditional marriages are arranged, even with church or registry weddings to round off such celebrations, the traditional marriages are slated for a day or two, or a week, before the church or Registry weddings, depending on the market day situation and other socio-economies considerations may come into play.

The annual Igue thanksgiving festival of his Majesty, the Oba (King) incorporating Igue-Ivbioba (Princes and Princesses) Igue-Edohia (All Benin people) and other annual traditional, cultural rites and ceremonies culminating in UGIE-EWERE are fixed with particular respect to appropriate market days. On Ede-Ubi (the day evil spirits are exorcised and thrown outside the GREAT CITY, WALLS), which is usually EKEN day when Ewere (Lucky) leaves are plucked and taken to every home. Later, on the same day, the Ugie Ewere is held at His Majesty, the Oba’s palace, to usher-in good tidings and bring the Igue festival to a close, when the Ihogbes (Royal Worshippers) bring the Ewere (good luck) leaves to the Oba. Customary Marriages rare forbidden on Ede-Ubi and Citizens used to be cautioned against travelling, being a high-risk day for that purpose.

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