Traditional Zulu Marriage Rites and BridePrice/Dowry Payment

Traditional Zulu Marriage Rites and BridePrice/Dowry Payment 1
Image by:Vita Bella Photos
South Africa is blessed with rich cultures, one of which is its traditional wedding ceremony. South African wedding traditions and customs are filled with a lot of rights and rituals that have to be done to appease the ancestors to guide and protect the newlyweds on their quests towards the marital journey.The Zulus are one of Africa’s largest ethnic group. To help me with this article; I had briefed a chat with Siyabonga a Zulu descendant who lives here in Landon.A Zulu wedding, like most African weddings, is filled with a lot of colors, music, dance, and food. African weddings are characterized by large people in attendance, the whole community or even the village at large could be at your wedding, so don’t border printing invites.
 
A BRIEF ZULU TRADITIONAL WEDDING CUSTOM
When a groom is ready for marriage and has found someone he wants to marry, he discusses his intention with his “babakazi”, father’s sister or “Malume” his mother’s brother’s wife or an older woman who is married. They are the ones saddled with the responsibility to relate the issue with the groom’s father. Same goes to the bride too. A spokesperson “Idombo” will be elected to represents the groom at a meeting, which is held at the bride’s home. The bride’s people in turn also elect their own spokesperson that will convey their demands to the “Idombo” on what is required, for the dowry.The groom’s parent gets the dowry items requested by bride’s family. These items will be presented on the date agreed by both families – Zulu dowry mostly contains these items, but not limited to;
 
1. “Nkomo” two fat cows,
2. Money for in-laws (parents brothers and sisters),
3. money for “ukangaziwe” meaning now you know us,
4. “Amalobolo” mother cow given to bride’s mother,
5. “Impahla” consists of clothes, shoes for the bride’s father and mother.
 
After the dowry has been settled, the date for the wedding ceremony will be schedule.
 
WEDDING DAY
At the wedding ceremony, the bride is decorated with red and white ocher designs on her legs and arms. Bags of pebbles are tied to her ankles (for rhythmic sound during dancing). She wears a veil made of beads and twisted fig leaves, a goat’s hair fringe is worn around her neck.When the bride arrives at her in-laws, her father-in-law welcomes her. She will then sit on a matt (with her bridesmaids by her side) and not talk to anyone as a sign of respect. The bride and her husband will be given words of wisdom by the elders not just for marriage, but for life as well.After that, gifts will be presented to the groom’s family and the bride will then perform a dance of celebration. She will also have to practice bed making in front of the whole family to demonstrate that she’s capable of her wifely duties.In the end, the wedding party can start. There will be a funfair, a lot of food and drink for the guests and everyone presents at the ceremony. The children and the elderly will dance and cheers the couple.

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