Yoruba Engagement: List of Items Required

Due to the diversity of customs of the various ethnic groups that make up Nigeria, traditional engagement ceremonies vary according to ethnic group. The Yoruba engagement ceremony is a special custom of the Yoruba people to commemorate the official engagement between a man and woman. However, as a prerequisite to a traditional engagement ceremony, a list is issued to the intending groom and his family to bring the contents of such list for the wedding ceremony proper. This list is referred to as Eru Iyawo in the customs of the Yoruba ethnic group.

Yoruba Engagement

This is a list of items required for a Yoruba engagement ceremony:

  • A suitcase containing clothes and accessories for the bride

This suitcase comprises shoes, Aso oke, damask, George, handbags, ankara and lace.

  • Hen or She-goat.

Hen or She-goat signifies fertility. It implies that marriage would be producing children.

  • Sugar cane.

Sugar signifies sweetness and is tasteful. Thus, this signifies that the new home would be filled with sweetness.

  • A Bible or a Koran.

Since Religion plays a vital role in Yoruba engagement ceremonies, a Bible is included in the list if it is a Christian bride, while a Koran for a Muslim bride.

  • 42 pieces of Kolanut (Obi abada).

  • Engagement rings for the bride and groom.

The engagement rings should be of exceptional quality.

  • 42 pieces of Aligator pepper.

Aligator pepper is commonly used in preparing most Yoruba dishes. Hence, it is an important component of the list.

  • 2 bottles of Honey.

Honey signifies sweetness. Thus, it implies that the home would be filled with sweetness.

  • 2 baskets containing different types of fruits.

The fruits signify fertility and fruitfulness. These fruits would be used in entertaining the Yoruba guests on the day of the engagement ceremony.

  • 25 litres of both Palm oil and Vegetable oil.

Palm oil has great traditional significance in Nigerian traditions. Hence, it is used during important occasions like traditional marriage rites.

  • 42 Pieces of Dry fish

  • 42 pieces of Bitter kola (orogbo).

Bitter Kola symbolizes the health of the bride and groom’s future family as it has many healing components.

  • Corn

Corn signifies Joy in the new home.

  • 1 Umbrella.

An Umbrella signifies the groom’s capacity to adequately cater for his wife and family, and protect them from calamity.

  • 42 big tubers of Yam.

The presentation of the Yam tubers is the most important aspect of the traditional marriage ceremony. Failure to provide the exact number of yams would attract a fine during the ceremony. Yam also signifies that the man would be capable of taking care of his family.

  • 1 bag of Rice.

Rice signifies fertility. It is one of the most cooked dishes in Nigeria.

  • 2 cartons of soft drinks.

These soft drinks would be used in entertainment as the Yoruba people do not like their mouths to be dry during occasions.

  • 2 packs of bottled water.

  • 2 bottles of non-alcoholic wine.

  • 42 pieces of large dried fish (Eja Osan).

Dried fish is an essential component of the marriage list as it is used in making many Yoruba dishes.

  • Bag of salt.

Salt signifies abundance. It is expected never to finish in the home.

  • A bag of Beans

  • 2 cartons of Malt drink.

These would be used for entertainment during the wedding ceremony.

  • Cooking items like pots, pans, and cups.

These cooking items would be presented to the couple after the wedding ceremony so they do not have to buy new ones when they get to their new home.

  • Earrings, chains, and 1 wristwatch.

These should be of superior quality so they can stand the test of time.

  • 2 cartons of juice.

These would be used for entertainment during the traditional marriage ceremony.

  • A set of dishes.

This set of dishes would be presented to couples during the wedding ceremony so they do not have to buy new ones when they get to their home.

  • A gallon of Palm wine.

  • Different Sweets and Biscuits.

  • Bride price (Owo ori) – The particular amount depends on the family of the Bride but in most cases, #5,000.

  • Entrance money.

This money is paid by the bridegroom’s family before admittance into the compound of the groom for the main ceremony.

  • Money for the children of the household (Owo Imo ile) – #5000

  • Money for unveiling the gifts (Owo isigba) – #2,000

  • Money for elders consent (Owo ijoko agba) – #5,000

  • Money for the bride’s father’s consent (Owo baba gbo) – #5,000

  • Money for the bride’s mother’s consent (Owo iya gbo) – #5,000

  • Money for knocking of door (Owo ikanlekun) – #1,000

  • Money for unveiling the bride (Owo isiju iyawo) – #2,000

  • Money for transporting the bride (Owo aeroplane) – #1,000

  • Money for the wives of the household (Owo iyawo ile) – #5,000

  • Money for reading letter (Owo letter kika) – #2,000

  • Money for the Master of Ceremony (Owo alaga ijoko) – #2,000

The items listed above for the Yoruba engagement are usually prepared by the family of the bride, of which she cannot influence the contents of the list. It is noteworthy to state that the Yoruba Engagement list may differ according to family and State of origin of the bride, but as a rule of thumb, the outlined list above covers the basic requirement of any Eru Iyawo, as it is described in the Yoruba language.

To render an abridged version of the activities of the Yoruba engagement ceremony goes thus: The occasion begins with a prayer, after which moderators from the groom and bride’s family engage in a ceremonial question and answer session to spice up the event. Next, the family of the groom submits the proposal letter which would be read out to the hearing of everyone present. Then, the groom and his entourage would approach the stage and prostrate as a sign of respect to the elders of the bride’s family, seeking grant of proposal request made prior. Furthermore, the bride price is presented, and the bride is brought out. After the bride identifies and accepts to marry the groom in front of everyone in attendance, that marks a successful union of man and wife. Thereafter, the new couple is led to a pavilion decorated specifically for them, amidst merriment and a variety of foods and drinks for all and sundry.

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