Benin Wedding Activity Notes

We thought you might like some more information on what is happening in the video included in the Benin Wedding activity!

The wedding day includes a few symbolic games going back to ancient times. It usually takes place in the bride’s home and is an intimate affair followed by a larger reception party afterwards.

The head of the groom’s family (okaegbe) tells the bride’s family that they were passing by and saw a beautiful adodo (flower) in their garden. The bride’s family responds by saying they have many beautiful flowers and the groom will need to identify the right one. The bride’s sisters or cousins then come in one by one from an outer room. The girls are usually covered with a veil. The groom would be asked, n na n a (is it this one?) and the groom would respond eo (no). He can be asked up to five times as a symbol of persistence. Finally the bride comes out with the Okuku hairstyle also covered with a veil. At this stage, the man is asked one more time n na n a (is it this one?). At this point, he will respond ehn (yes). This is met by celebratory cheers in the room. 

The bride then sits with her family while the wedding gifts from the groom are presented and prayed over. The head of the bride’s family (okaegbe) gently takes the bride  to the groom’s father as a symbol of her gaining a father and to signify that the whole family is welcoming her not just the groom. It also symbolises the groom's father's commitment to ensuring that the newly weds are taken care of during the early stage of marriage. This would be accompanied with a loud counting of numbers up to 7 using the Benin dialect. At the mention of the seventh number, he then places her on the lap of the groom’s father.

At this stage, the groom's father hands the bride to his son to demonstrate that the entire family accepts her and cherishes her.