Marriage And My Tradition: Taking A wife In Hausa land
The Nikkah ‘the Islamic wedding’ is the process followed when taking a wife in the amongst the muslims in Hausa land. It has its unique way of practice and this distinguishes it from other forms of wedding practices all over the world. In recent times, the practice of Nikkah has tilted more towards a more cultural angle rather than its previous religious sacredness. With the rise of westernization, people have generally adjusted the rulings to suite their convenience or desires.
In the Hausa culture of Nigeria, the typical practice is initiated when the family, close family friends of the groom (not necessarily including his parents), the to-be-groom’s guardian go to visit the family of the bride. It's an all men affair and that usually referred to as Na gani ina so which literally means ‘I like what I see’. The groom’s family goes with a basket of a few things including fruits and kola nuts. This is for the acceptance or rejection by the bride’s father after which, according to tradition it is permissible for the man and the woman to ‘see’ each other.
The man and woman communicate with one another, share likes and dislikes basically, if the girl feels comfortable with marrying the man, she gives her consent. she communicates this to her parents who in turn activate the Gaisuwa meaning Greetings to their in-laws- to be. The Gaisuwa is a formal form of approval from the family of the bride to the groom's. At this point however, the father of the bride can still withdraw his initial approval if issues arise that cannot be sorted out. If all goes well at this point, the relationship is committal and it is certain that the two will be marrying each other. It is also on this day, that the proper wedding dialogue begins and wedding date is agreed upon and chosen by a delegation of the two families. The setting of the date is called Sa rana. The bride’s family goes home with some gifts for the bride referred to as Kai Kaya meaning ‘Carrying Things’. Depending on the financial capability of the groom and his family, the items range from clothing, jewelleries, shoes, perfumes and many more.
Also, it is part of the Hausa culture for the groom to provide a house for the couple while the bride’s family has full responsibility of furnishing the house, especially her room, living room and the kitchen. All these are done before the wedding proper. The wedding day is usually referred to as Fatihah. That is the day in which there is a solemnization of the two families and payment of sadaki the dowry. Traditionally, the women folk aren’t expected at the wedding Fatihah and they usually never are present. Instead, the women are indoors busy at the Kunshi, preparing the bride for her final moment as a spinster and new beginnings as a wife. The kunshi is a ceremony just like a bridal shower where the older women apply generous amounts of perfume and scented flowers on the bride, lalei (henna) is applied on the arms and feet of the bride and her friends . It serves as a form of decoration as flowers and other intriguing designs are drawn.
Depending on the families involved, a Walimah ‘ wedding reception’ is held after the wedding Fatihah, it's a whole day’s ceremony, with food and drinks and merriment for family, friends and other well wishers. After all has been said and done, the bride is taken to her husband’s house after series of admonishments from both parents, aunts, uncles and even her new parents-in-law. It's known as Kai Amarya and it means conveyance of the bride.
All in all, the Hausa Nikkah is usually a graceful and fun-filled ceremony with so many activities involved. For those of you non-Hausas looking to marry into this tribe, oh well! Start tightening your belts and scarves, cos’ it certainly is an adventurous journey to embark on! :)
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