Idoma traditional marriage is similar to that of Igbo people but there is some variation. Those variations will be discussed in detail later in this article.
Idoma is the second largest ethnic group in Benue State and is found in nine Local Government Areas in the state, which are: Ado, Agatu, Apa, Obi, Ohimini, Ogbadibo, Oju, Okpokwu & Otukpo Local Government Areas.
Traditional marriage in Idoma land
In years past most traditional Marriages in Nigeria are an arrangement between two families rather than an arrangement between two individuals. Marriage in Idoma land is seen as a lifelong contract, although divorce is likely to take place on the grounds of Infidelity.
When an Idoma man is about twenty-five years old, with the financial strength to maintain a wife and bear children. He looks for a woman of his choice, who should be at least eighteen years old.
After finding one, he informs his family of his desire and they will, in turn, choose a go-between (a person who is familiar with the girl’s family).
The go-between scrutinizes the family of the prospective bride, to determine that the family has no history of any particular ailments e.g. mental disease, epilepsy, and kleptomania.
If the result of this investigation is positive, the prospective groom’s family visits the woman’s family with gifts of Kolanut and Hot drinks. This is done to officially inform the girl’s family of their intention to marry their daughter.
During the introduction ceremony, both families will gather to discuss further terms. The date for the wedding ceremony is projected by the husband to be and his family.
After much consideration and weighing all options, an acceptable date is reached by both families. On the same day, a list of items (dowry) required to make the union legal is given to the man’s family.
These items are to be brought to the girl’s family on the day of the engagement. The items vary from ethnic group to ethnic group. This is a standard procedure for most Idoma traditional marriages.
The Engagement Day
On the engagement day of an Idoma traditional marriage, those items on the dowry list are brought to the family of the girl. If he can bring everything on the list, it signifies that the husband-to-be can take care of his wife.
In addition to the bride-price, the groom is required to pay a dowry to the bride’s mother and then another to the father. This involves significant rounds of bargaining which take some time.
It is important to note, that money given to the bride’s brothers, her Age group, and distance relatives depend on the level of the bride’s education and productivity. The husband is at liberty to determine what he is going to give to them.
The bride-price list or Dowry of Idoma traditional marriage
- Walking stick, Cap and Cloths for the Father of the girl
- Cloth for the Mother of the girl
- Some tubers of Yam
- One or two bags of Salt
- She goat
- Some bottles of Palm Oil
- Hot Drinks
- A Suitcase for the wife to be
- Local brewed alcoholic drink
- Soaps, body cream
- Makeup kits
- Undergarment for bride
- 2 boxes (big and small)
- Palm oil
- Money for the bride’s mother
- Money for the bride’s father
- Money for the bride’s mother family
- Money for the bride’s age group
- Money for the bride’s distance relatives
As the event gradually moves towards the end, the groom’s family gives the bride a rooster and some money. If she accepts these gifts and gives them to her mother, it shows she has accepted the groom and she will be showered with more gifts and money.
In an instance where she refuses to marry the man after these gifts have been provided, the bride’s family will return everything.
Handing over of the bride
in Idoma traditional marriage, the idoma people have these traditions that they normally do! The bride’s mother gifts her daughter cooking utensils and food because she is not expected to go to the market for the first five market days after her marriage.
At the end of the ceremony, when everyone has eaten and drank, the wife is finally handed over to her husband’s family. Before the bride is handed over to her husband, the bride’s age group will front as a mock barrier to those who want to take her and extort money from the nervous groom’s family.
Preferably, in any Idoma traditional marriage rites, the bride is expected to be a virgin as this is a source of pride and joy to her family.
If she is found not to be a virgin, a cleansing ritual is done at her husband’s family’s ancestral shrine. After the cleansing, the Ije (an ancestral waistband) is put on her to summon fertility.