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Traditional, Religious And Civil Ceremones (In comparison)

Last Update (July 9, 2020)

If we take the marriage under the ordinance or the Registry as an example of communal involvement, when the marriage vow is being taken, each of the parties “call on all person present” to witness that I . . . do take thee. . . . to be my lawful wedded... wife (husband to have and to hold” etc Similarity, in Church wedding, the VOWS are taken “before God and man…. Religious  marriage, there is the “Exhortation” or “charge’‘ and it is usually in such form as “we are gathered here in the sight of God and in the presence of this congregation to join together Mr. and Miss… in holy matrimony which is an honorable estate, instituted of God. “ So, from time immoral marriage ceremonies have been recognized and celebrated as a publicly patronized institution so it has been in the culture and tradition of Benin people where family members of the couple call the shots and where the proposal and acceptance proceedings are done before the family hierarchy and interested friends and the Community.

Celebration of the marriage

No wonder therefore in the Holy Scriptures (the Bible) which provides suitably ad extra-ordinarily for the spiritual needs of mankind, it is stated in Genesis 2:18...

“The Lord God said ‘it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”.  

The Bible also says, “Be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28 .This is further strengthen in Hebrew 13:4. That “Marriage should be honored by all” and, specifically also provided in the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) is the to give one’s daughter “to a worthy man “sir 7:25. Furthermore the “Marriage at Cana in Galilee”, where Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into ‘wine testifies to the importance of family and community involvement in marriage celebration. This was marriage under the Jewish custom and tradition, no doubt. It is written also in the Bible, that the Blessed Virgin Mary was present with her son, Jesus, and two of his disciples because a relation of theirs was getting married: (JOHN 2 1 -2 ) The Cana episode also illustrates the usefulness of consultation, respect, obedience and honor to one’s parents as Jesus performed his first miracle at this marriage ‘when his blessed mother approached him to help the people. Thus, to whatever Religion one belongs, Christian, Muslim etc, marriage under the Benin customary Law is based on the firm belief that marriage is for PROCREATTON and the process Is guided by consultations with one’s family members, honor and respect for one’s parents and elders in the family as the tradition of the land demands.

For Muslims, the Quran provides copiously also for the sacred institution of marriage and its significance though with a difference of allowing for maximum of four wives as opposed to the Christian tenet of one man, one wife of only (monogamy)in the New Testament Under Benin customary law and practice there is no limit to the number of wives a man may marry but this is not imposed, and there are rules to  regulate such union and for separation or divorce when it becomes necessary or when the marriage breaks down  Irretrievably”.

Other religions of the world, Judaism Buddhism Hinduism, Eckankar, African Traditional Religion etc, make prime provision for the time-honored institution of Marriage with variations and peculiarities to suit their practices.
In Benin kingdom, although marriage is a festivity, ceremonies are performed according to the scale of available resources. The concern of the writer is to attempt to identify systems of marriage under the tradition or customary law in Benin Land and strive to authenticate, and to attain requisite standardization, outside basic requirement and proper procedures, which will eliminate guess work confusion grafting, over zealousness and excesses that have gradually, in recent time, crept into Benin marriage system, the marriage procedures and practices. At the risk of repetition, the writer consider honest that, simulating and steamling  procedures that have been in existence from time immemorial, will enhance the status and dignity of customary marriage in Benin Kingdom and assist those engaged in it. While recognizing very slight or negligible variations in some families and some area in Benin Land, the systems have to be determined and synchronized where such slight variations may exist, but basic tenets and requirements remain the same throughout the land.

It is now becoming the common practice or the vogue in Nigeria, whether among the Binis or the neighboring Yoruba or other cultures, for young men and women to contract marriage by first going thought the Native Law and custom rites and sealing it with marriage under the ordinance, the Marriage Act, or wedding in the Christian Church, or other religious banners. The order in which this may be juxtaposed depends on circumstances or choice. In other words, Christian or Registry marriage may be preceded by customary marriage or done simultaneously. Some people do end up with customary marriage only, especially those prone to polygamy since Christian wedding, or marriage in the Registry by Law, restricts the parties to one man, one wife only, i.e. monogamy, but customary marriage place no much limitation. Apart from this, customary marriage is respectable and a pride to the Benin people. (Ivbi-Edo) or Africans generally as their indigenous, or traditional s system which sustained the family unit and the community before the incursion of western cultures and the advent of the Christian or Muslim religion, or other outside influences. However when a marriage is contracted under customary law and also under the ordinance or Christian religious banner the customary law marriage appears sub-summed and by their peculiar provision or codification, the ordinance or Religious Marriage takes precedence over the traditional form of marriage, if subjected to legal interpretation or litigation due perhaps, to non- codification of customary laws for the time being.


While the girl’s consent is also obtained it is noteworthy that the aspect of customary marriage where FAMILY -CONSENT is a SINE QUA NON, irrespective of the maturity and age of the celebrants, particularly on the side of the girl and the prime regard of the marriage as a social contract between two families Is very fundamental. This should be of prime interest, and undoubtedly distinguishing factor of an African system a Nigerian heritage or, for that matter, of peculiar significance to an indigene of BENIN (Ovbi-Edo). Besides the customary law system has passed through distillation, modernization or purification in so far as some of the non- essential formalities could be waived. For example to Christians or adherents of other religions for whom any ritual elements could be expunged, in favour of biblical or solemn pledge or vow e.g ancestral worship, oath-taking (of fidelity),in the ancestral shrine (Aro-Erha) or the consultation of oracles could be waived There is no doubt that the oath-taking rituals were very effective and made the traditional marriage institution SACROSANCT. For example, if any man not being the husband of a woman should walk across the outstretched legs of a marriage woman, or if a man not being the husband should jokingly or otherwise put his hands on a married waist, not even embraces, it was FORBIDDEN. It was taboo (AWUA). The married.
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