What are some of the best traditions in Nigeria? Learn about the top 5 and see what you can use in your own wedding.
Nigeria is a country with very rich cultural background. One of the greatest parts of it is Nigerian wedding traditions. There are many ways of celebrating weddings in Nigeria that have been kept until nowadays. Customs are usually distinguished by accessory or by some unique types of ceremonies of a tribe. There are over 300 tribes in Nigeria but the most well-known are Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo. Some of the traditions concern garments, the others are connected with behavior or even naming.
No one, who has at least once seen such a ceremony, will forget it. There is nothing more interesting, outstanding, and striking. There exist plenty of customs, but let us have a look at the most impressive of them.
These traditions are about
- How to dress.
- How to get acquainted with the family.
- Ways of celebration and expressing happiness.
- Connection to religion.
- Treating parents and grandparents.
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Of course, modern weddings can be like western ones, but paying attention to the traditions and respect for them is still an important part of every Nigerian’s life.
How bride and groom should look
The bride chooses the outfit herself. The rest of the female guests should dress accordingly. She may select the following accessories:
- gele (a kind of a head tie),
- IRO (a long element tied around the waist),
- buba (tank top),
- gold chains,
She can also pick out various materials, including gale, damask, or Nigerian Ankara fabric. She decides what color her Nigerian wedding attire should be and her family wears the same.
The professional make-up and hair stylists are usually invited to complete the look.
Concerning the groom, he also might choose accessories like Agbada (two-layer material). Various textiles can be used as well, including lace, Ankara fabric, and cotton. The colors are important. They should reflect the family color and suit the bride.
Before getting married, the young couple needs to be engaged. It includes several steps:
- In all the tribes, the groom should first come to the bride’s family to introduce himself and make an official proposal. In such situations he is usually accompanied by his male friends and the men of the family (they are older, as a rule). In many tribes (like Hausa and Igbo), they also carry gifts for the girl’s family. They might be kolanuts, palm wine, alcoholic drinks, chocolates, candies, and so on. This step is called by Hausa “Na gani ina” which means “I like what I see”. Igbo people name it “Iku Aka”.
- Then if her family agrees, the bride and the groom can spend some time together to know each other better. Besides, the bride should also approve the future husband. In particular tribes (like Hausa, for instance) they often keep to the traditions of Islam, so the young couple don’t have many contacts before the official engagement, because they are mostly forbidden. Moreover, during the Yoruba wedding the professional person is hired to control every step (they are women and are called “Alaga ijoko” or masters of the ceremony). She might be a part of the girl’s family or even a stranger.
- Yoruba woman also has to make a kind of proposal. She does it with the help of the letter reading ceremony. Besides, in Yoruba the families give the gifts to each other. It may be rice, sugar, salt, kolanut, and more.
- Dowry ceremony (also known as “Walimah” in Hausa). The money should only be given for the bride. According to Islam, the less is the amount the more blessing the marriage will be.
- Then the parents should arrange everything about the wedding. Thus, the engagement is considered complete.
Features of Nigerian wedding
- Wedding means the strong connection between two families, not only two people. That is why there are so many customs concerning relatives.
- The groom and his friends should lie down in front of all girl’s relatives to express the respect and then go through the introduction ceremony.
- Nigerian traditional wedding dresses are very bright and beautiful for both the bride and the groom.
- Dances are an important part of the weddings. National music starts with sounds of gong. According to Nigerian Yoruba wedding traditions, the bride appears accompanied by her friends (they usually dance). It is very impressive sight.
- To make sure that everything is done right Yoruba people hire professionals. That means that even for modern generation, traditions play an essential part in the life.
- Igbo tribes also have wine-carrying ceremony after the dowry.
- Payment is just symbolic and does not mean a real price for the girl.
- There are poor and rich families in Nigeria but the wedding ceremony must be full of fun and bright even if the family does not have a lot of money. In several cases, if the groom is not rich enough, some of the steps can be omitted (after the agreement with the bride and her relatives). That means that people in Nigeria try to understand and support each other.
- Every guest should be in a national costume. The bride usually chooses what color these costumes will be. The tints of the families, guests, and the newly married couple should match. It makes the event even more charming.
- Bridesmaids have to collect all the money guests throw to the bride and groom.
- Both families often give presents to the guests. It does not matter what present it actually is. The point is participating in a big and important event. The groom also can carry gifts for the girl’s family while making a proposal. Besides, in definite tribes, families give presents to each other to emphasize the unification.
- During the ceremony, the families give each other trays with food and various gifts. It is the symbol of close relationships and unification into one family.
Weddings in modern Nigeria may include church ceremonies (as the most modern countries), white dresses, and celebration in a more habitual ways. Nevertheless, even nowadays brides pay a lot of attention to the ancient traditions and many of them prefer wearing Nigerian traditional outfits and headdresses to the modern ones. Families still do unify and after wedding, they live very friendly and always ready to help each other. The respect to the elder generation is the most important thing for the people up to now. That is way they devote the whole ceremony to this.
- Nigeria is one of the countries in the world that are the most respectful to the traditions,
- Nigerian traditions unite different parts of culture including religious ones,
- Nigerian weddings are directed to a creation of big and strong family,
- Nigerian wedding traditions pay a lot of attention to express respect to the elder generation,
- Nigerians have over 300 tribes all over the Nigeria and every tribe has its own traditions, though they are similar in some way (they usually contain the stage of acquaintance, introduction, dowry, and gifting),
- Weddings in this country are usually very beautiful, full of rich culture and fun; they manage to combine modern stylishness with important ancient customs.
This information on Nigerian wedding traditions may help you get ready for your big day. Study the past to come up with the most beautiful and blessed ceremony for your future.