Saturday, 04 January 2014 15:32

You Are Di M and Palm Wine Sipping Rite in Igbo

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Traditional Marriage - Courtesy of Uju Angel Traditional Marriage - Courtesy of Uju Angel

To say that the Igbo adore one of their marriage stages of the public search and pronouncement of a male suitor by a female receptor as "You Are Di M", (you are my husband), with "Palm Wine Sipping Rite" is not an exaggeration. It is real, highly teased and symbolized. This short description of how it is done highlights the ceremony which recently took place in Ikeduru near Owerri in Imo State of Nigeria. The concluded Christmas and New year 2013 was successful and there were some huge lists of marriage ceremonies in the season. Families are happy when their daughters marry. It is prayed for, feasted on and therefore culturally elaborated. 

Traditional marriage in Igbo of Ikeduru near Owerri and elsewhere - shows where and how the bride searches out to hand over a cup of palm wine to her ready-waiting suitor, "di oma ya" or groom to pronounce him "di ya" or husband in public for a cultural applause. That is a guy she has chosen and that will now be consecrated and secured for her in marriage partnership. It is not funny to say that "a put-no-asunder mantra" is tied through sipping and sharing, called a symbolic sip of drink and kiss. Bride is walking down the gathered audience to hand over this palm wine in her hand and to humbly receive her dream palm wine kiss. 

The bride customarily covers the palm wine in her hand when approaching and searching for her di oma ya, in the crowd to avoid intrusion, perhaps someone else might do some crazy rock and roll show, by jumping into it and taking a sip of the palm wine which will automatically put asunder to, or defile the rite of passage. Protection is highly advised in the process. Never allow any other male to sip before your groom. If that happens, the marriage is thrown into chaos. A bride must do everything to deter every other male from getting at the cup before her groom. 

It can be highly competed for and sometimes a groom might be hidden away to put the bride into a prolonged search and begging for him to be released to her. In one occasion, the bride had to make a call: Onye obula no ebea biko kpowara m di muoo!!! (Everyone here please call my husband for meoohh!!). She will proclaim his name. The audience will be amused and applauding. It is community fun. 

Once again congrats for achieving this elegant bridal inu mai or palm wine sipping and kissing feat. By doing so, a public applause and recognition of the marriage is symbolically gained and celebrated.

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Patrick Iroegbu Ph.D

Patrick Iroegbu is a Social and Cultural (Medical) Anthropologist and lectures Anthropology in Canada. He is the author of Marrying Wealth, Marrying Poverty: Gender and Bridewealth Power in a Changing African Society: The Igbo of Nigeria (2007). He equally co-ordinates the Kpim Book Series Project of Father-Prof. Pantaleon Foundation based at Owerri, Nigeria. Research interests include gender and development, migration, race and ethnic relation issues, as well as Igbo Medicine, Social Mental Health and Cultural Studies.