Nupe Wedding Ceremony: It Takes A Village To Raise A Bride
Imagine a culture where a new bride visits most of, if not all, the houses in her parents’ neighbourhood, to greet, receive advice and blessings from elders in the community before finally leaving for her husband’s house. It exists.
By Happy ZIrra
Safiya, has just concluded her marital rites according to the Islamic religion. She was then escorted around houses of relatives and neighbours to bid them farewell. Prayers flowed freely from her parents, relatives and other well-wishers, followed by counsel and guidance needed for building a successful marriage with her husband.
The Nupe tribe, a majority in Niger state, North-central Nigeria, has a rich culture that celebrates marital values. This is one of the reasons why the tribe often prefers to marry close to home. A Nupe man prefers to marry a Nupe woman, I remember Idris, a young Nupe man, saying to me.
After the pronouncement of Safiya and Kasim as husband and wife, celebration followed. In some families, Islamic preaching is observed all night, but in the case of Safiya and Kasim, drum beating and singing folk songs took the center stage of the celebration.
Late in the evening of the Fatiha [wedding], the new bride is prepared for the journey to her husband’s home.
That night, Safiya’s parents handed her over to someone who serves as the intermediary between the two families. She was then accompanied by her friends, her husband’s friends and a few married women to her new home.
In the new home, the groom’s family received her into a newly prepared room. Then another round of celebration continued into the night.
In the traditional age-old Nupe culture, this ceremony may have lasted between 5 and 7 days. But nowadays, the entire ceremony is completed within 24-48 hours.
The morning after the couple’s wedding, the bride who is dressed in ceremonial attire goes back to her father’s house, to prepare a meal which she takes back to her ‘eba yawo’ (husband) house. They seat on a mat and she feeds him in front of friends.
After feeding her husband, the bride goes to her father’s house again to make final preparation to leave for her new home. This time, married women gather in her father’s compound to gather her ga’ra (set of box filled with wrappers made from different fabrics, dresses, and kitchen items) together. The women sing merrily throughout the exercise.
One of the items that must not be left behind is a mortar and a pestle, which is said to have a huge significance, according to tradition.