If there is one thing that Nigerians love the most, it has to be weddings. Nigerians love weddings so much that Nigeria is one of the countries that has the most expensive weddings in the world. From the wedding cards, to the venues, the clothing, the food and souvenirs, everything has to be the best. Nigerians even go as far as inviting celebrity musicians to perform at their weddings. Among all the traditional weddings in Nigeria, the northern nigerian wedding is exceptional.
Here in the northern part of Nigeria, marriage is referred to as (Aure). When a young man decides to settle down and propose to a lady, a series of steps needs to be taken from the proposing down to when they are happily married. These series of steps are part of the northern culture and tradition that has been practiced for several years.
When a young man and his fiancé decides to get married, the young man and the lady will usually inform their individual families about their intention. The young man’s family will ask him a series of questions about the lady and the lady’s family will also ask her a series of questions about the young man. If both families are satisfied with the answers, then the marriage process can begin.
It usually starts by setting a date when the young man’s family will visit the lady’s family to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage. On the visiting day, the man’s family (headed by an uncle) will visit with a number of different items like kola nuts, drinks and money (sadaki). After the usual introductions by both families, the head of the lady’s family will request a dowry (sadaki) which will be paid by the man’s family as their acceptance in given their daughter’s hand in marriage.
Immediately after paying the dowry, a date will be set for kick starting the wedding preparations. One is the date when the groom’s family will come along with gift boxes (lefe) for the lady – these gift boxes include designer clothing, jewelry, shoes, bags, cosmetics, perfumes. These are items that the lady will use when she finally gets to her husband’s house. The groom’s family will deliver these to the bride’s family with an entourage of the groom’s aunties and sisters.
On this day, both the groom and bride’s aunties, friends and sisters will meet to open the gift boxes (a lot of lavish spending is made on these gift boxes) to have a view of what’s inside the boxes and admire the items. After that, they usually have a lunch, have a lengthy conversations and get to know both families – this is done by introducing both families.
Before the day runs out, the women will conclude on a wedding date and the activities that will be conducted during the wedding period. This usually include about six events:
- Sa Lalle (henna)
- Daurin Aure (Wedding Ceremony)
- Kai Amarya (Conveyance of the Bride to her Husband’s House)
After the official date for the wedding has been set, the women will have further conversations and later depart to their various destinations. Usually the wedding date is approximately one – two months from the day when the wedding date was set. Both the groom and bride’s family will have enough time to prepare for the main event. Usually the preparation involves renting venues, printing cards, decorating the new home and informing far relatives.
When it comes to clothing, all through the six events the bride’s friends usually wear the same clothing (called Anko). So the clothing has to be sourced (usually imported from a foreign country like Switzerland or Dubai), sewed and distributed to all the bride’s friends. The groom’s friends sometimes does the same too, but usually for two events only – dinner and lunch.
So on the day of the first event which is Kamu, usually it is hosted in a home setting. The venue is of course decorated, a lot of food is prepared, traditional musicians are invited with a MC who usually host the event. This event is usually meant for counselling and advising the bride by the bride’s aunties. They all take the mic and speak inspiring words not just to the bride but also her friend’s. This usually involves how the bride should leave with her husband peacefully and how to always keep the love flowing despite circumstances.
The next event on the list is Sa Lalle (henna), it is usually hosted in a home setting and mostly comprises of the bride’s friends and family. This event is usually meant for decorating the hands and legs of the bride, her friends and her family. Their hands and legs are decorated by drawing beautiful designs (similar to a tattoo but this one can be easily cleaned and removed within a few days). This is part of the northern culture among females, they love it and it makes them feel more feminine. The females are going to wear this designs all through the 6 wedding events.
The next day is the Daurin Aure, this is an event strictly for males. This event is done to officially present the bride and groom as husband and wife. Both the groom and bride’s family and friends come together to pray and tie the knot. The event is usually led by an Imam who conduct the prayer recitations. In this event, no music is played and also no food is given. This is strictly to pray and also tie the knot by the males of both families. After the tying of the knot, the males come together to take pictures and also meet each other to introduce themselves.
Few hours after the Daurin Aure, both the bride and groom with friends convey themselves to the lunch venue. The lunch is usually to celebrate the official tying of the knot by both families and friends. This is usually a big event hosted in a glamorous venue with decorations, musicians and all sorts of things you can imagine in a wedding setting. In this event, everyone is present to celebrate, laugh and dance. Friends and family dance together with the bride and groom and most times you see a lot of money sprayed on the bride and groom. Best friends of bride and groom come on stage to shower praises on the newlyweds. Afterwards a lot of pictures is being taken with the bride and groom.
After the lunch, usually on the same day, everyone gets back home to change and prepare for the dinner. The dinner is pretty much the same as everything that happens in the lunch but the difference is that this event takes place in the night and in a different location. It starts at about 8 pm and the party goes on all through mid-night until about 1 am. What you should expect in this event is a lot of dancing, eating, photographs and laugh.
The next day after the night of the dinner is the final day on the list of events, which is the Kai Amarya. The Kai Amarya usually starts in the evening hours where the groom and bride’s aunties and friends convey the bride to her matrimonial home. After their arrival, the female elders usually have a deep one hour conversation with the bride, advising her on how to be a good wife and should take her marriage seriously. This is one of the most emotional parts of all the events, the bride and her family share a very big cry as the bride enter her new home with her husband. After spending some time with the bride, everyone leaves and gets back to their various homes living the bride and groom to enjoy their time as newlyweds.
Thanks for this very informative article with great pictures. I am wondering about weddings among the less affluent in Nigeria as well.
Thank you John 🙂. Wedding for the less affluent in Nigeria is quite different.
Good question, John. Colonialism has left a huge divide amongst the African people. Not all, as in our nation, fare so well.
That’s right Edissa.
This is the kind of deep looking I really enjoy. You have a gentle loving gaze for your people. You teach me with your gentility. Thank you.
Sure. My desire is to continue to inspire and share stories from this side of the world. You are welcome