Birth, marriage and burial are considered the three most important family events in most cultures, and Igboland is not an exception to that.
It is common to get invited to a traditional marriage (Igba nkwu) and certainly worth witnessing one. Marriage in Igboland is not just an affair between the future husband and wife but also involves the parents, the extended family and villages. First the groom asks his potential partner to marry him. Assuming that this is affirmative, the groom will visit the bride’s residence accompanied by his father. The groom’s father will introduce himself and his son and explain the purpose of his visit.
The bride’s father welcomes the guests, invites his daughter to come and asks her if she knows the groom. Her confirmation shows that she agrees with the proposal. Then the bride’s price settlement (Ika-Akalika) starts with the groom accompanied by his father and elders visiting the bride’s compound on another evening.
In the final stage of the traditional marriage rites, the groom will go to the house of the bride-to-be with his immediate and extended family, villagers and town’s people with the above items. Host families will prepare different kinds of indigenous dishes to entertain their guests.
The wedding day is again at the bride’s compound, where the guests welcome the couple and invite them in front of the families. First the bride goes around selling boiled eggs to the guests, showing to both families that she has the capability to open a shop and make money. Then, the bride’s father fills a wooden cup (Iko) with palm wine and passes it on to the girl while the groom finds a place between the guests. It is the custom for her to look for her husband while being distracted by the invitees. Only after she has found the groom, she will kneel down and offered the cup to him and he sipped the wine, according to our customs once the cup is empty the couple is married traditionally.
The parents and elders in the family of both the bride and groom will pray for the newlyweds and for the success of their marriage. During this ceremony, there is also the nuptial dance where the couple dances, while guests wish the newlyweds prosperity by throwing money around them or putting bills on their forehead.
When the ceremony is over, the bride will go home with the family of the groom signifying that the two are now husband and wife.
In some communities in Igboland, “Idu Uno” is practiced. Idu Uno is when the family of the bride officially goes and visit the home where their daughter will be living. Note that the previous ceremony and meetings took place in the bride’s family home.
The bride’s family buys cooking utensils, bed-sheets, boxes, sewing machine, bed, pillow cases, plates, clothes and other things newly married couples need to start a life and family.
Also, the bride’s family along with their extended families sets a date to visit the couple with all the goods they bought. On “Idu Uno” day, the wife’s family will give the newly married couple all the things they bought for them.
This is usually done to give newly married couple a head start by defraying some of their expenses. Marriage ceremonies in Igboland can be a long and expensive undertaking, but they are usually worth every kobo.