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“Igbeyawo”: A Look At The Yoruba Traditional Wedding

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The Yoruba Traditional Wedding Ceremony, also known as the Yoruba Engagement ceremony, or “Igbeyawo” in Yoruba, usually takes place days, weeks or even months before the white wedding ceremony.


However, some families choose to hold both weddings on the same day. The bride’s family is usually responsible for covering the ceremony’s costs. But sometimes, both families choose to split the costs as they please.


The “Alaga Iduro” represents the groom’s family while the “Alaga Ijoko” represents the bride’s family.


The Yoruba traditional wedding ceremony usually starts with the bride’s family seated and waiting for the groom’s family to arrive. Both the groom and bride are absent at this point.


Once the groom’s family arrives, the “Alaga Ijoko” welcomes them at the gate in the company of the housewives of the bride’s family.


The “Alaga Ijoko” then asks the groom’s family to state their reasons for coming before collecting an entry fee from them.


Finally, she introduces them to the bride’s family before prayers. After the introduction, the groom’s family kneel and prostrate before the family of the bride.


"Igbeyawo":Take A Look At The Yoruba Traditional Wedding
The Groom and his family prostrating to the bride’s family. Photo Credit: Twitter


The two families will then sit on opposite sides of the room, while the two “Alaga” sit or stand in their midst.


Once seated, the “Alaga Iduro” presents the proposal letter to the “Alaga Ijoko” on behalf of the groom’s family.


A younger female representative of the bride’s family, such as the younger sister or cousin reads this letter.


An acceptance letter is then presented to the groom’s family before some prayers are said.


Once the groom is seated, the veiled bride dances in accompanied by her parents and “Ore Iyawo”. They are usually some close female friends and female family members.


"Igbeyawo":Take A Look At The Yoruba Traditional Wedding
A Yoruba Bride and her friends “Ore Iyawo”. Photo credit: iDONSABI
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She then kneels before her parents, who pray for her and bless her. She does the same thing with her husband’s parents, before taking off her veil and joining her husband.


"Igbeyawo":Take A Look At The Yoruba Traditional Wedding
Parents praying for the bride.


On getting to her husband, she kneels before him while prayers are said for both of them. He then gives her some money, before lifting her up for all to see.


At this point, the Yoruba bride puts the groom’s “Fila” (cap) on his head to signify an accepted marriage proposal.


"Igbeyawo":Take A Look At The Yoruba Traditional Wedding
A bride placing her the Groom’s “Fila” on his head


As soon as the couple seats, the “Alaga Ijoko” then asks the bride to select one of the many engagement gifts (Eru Iyawo).


The “Eru Iyawo” usually contains lots of food, and each item has some significance. At a Yoruba traditional wedding ceremony, the bride is expected to select the Bible/Quran from the “Eru Iyawo”.


Photo of an “Eru Iyawo” at a Yoruba Traditional Wedding


This religious book will have her engagement ring attached to it. The bride gives her husband the ring, which he places on her finger for her to display happily to everyone.


Then, the groom’s family also presents the bride price and fees requested to the family of their new wife.


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