This is an important aspect to consider. For some of us, anyway, it is. After all, you do not want to find out that you have included a pagan ritual seconds after it is performed, do you? Besides, it is never a bad thing to know what you are involving in your wedding agenda. So, in this article we will go through some of the common African wedding rituals and their origins.
Jumping the broom
- What it is: Yes, it literally involves jumping the broom, which the married couple can do before or after the vows. It is done to signify entrance into a new life.
- Origin: This practice can be traced to our enslaved ancestors, who would do it because they had no other way to recognize a newly married couple – the slave holders had forbidden marriage. So this was one of the new rituals created to recognize the married couple.
- Wiccan/neo-paganism origin: Yes, it seems so. Though, from what I was able to find out, it seems the neo-pagans borrowed this idea and incorporated it into their weddings. As a result, many pagans and non-pagans seem to associate this ritual with pagan hand fastings, where the broom is a threshold and jumping over it is entrance into new territory.
The money dance
- What it is: Male guests pay to dance with the bride (and sometimes females to dance with the groom). But in Nigeria, well-wishers take turns throwing money on the wedded couple – and, sometimes, their mothers.
- Origin: Apparently, this ritual is of Polish origin. Though, a number of cultures seem to have this ritual as part of their wedding (Philippine,Polish, and African – especially Nigerian – cultures).
- Wiccan/neo-paganism origin: The answer to this part seems quite elusive. But so far, it seems not. It seems the goal of the dance is to ensure the couple has money to start their new life with.
Use of henna
- What it is: Actually it is a plant, whose leaves release a red dye when put under duress. Henna actually has a number of uses, but the one we will focus on is Mehndi, which is the Hindi word for the process of painting patterns on one’s skin with henna. Why we are discussing henna and Mehndi is mainly because some of the North African countries seem to have adopted henna application in their culture.
- Origin: What with how widespread Mehndi (Mehendi) is, finding a country of origin seems hard to do. But it goes back to Egypt, India, Greece and can be traced as far back as 2100 B.C.E in Syria.
- Wiccan/neo-paganism origin: One article had this to say: “Basically, anywhere that has a period of hot dry weather and of goddess worship has utilized henna.” Another article states that often symbols of fertility and love (peacocks, hearts and mangoes) are included in the henna designs. Then, again, it points out that henna application is not restricted to certain cultures these days. I guess that depends on how it is applied.
- What it is: Holy water or alcohol is poured on the ground in the cardinal directions while prayers are recited to the ancestral spirits and the names of the recently deceased are called out.
- Origin: It is suggested to have originated somewhere in the upper Nile valley and, like many cultural practices, seems to have been adopted by many cultures.
- Wiccan/neo-paganism origin: It, according to my research, is a way of giving homage to the ancestors and is an invitation (or is accompanied by an invocation) for the ancestors and gods to join in celebrating the occasion.
I only picked some of the common modern African wedding rituals and did my best to summarize them. I really hope it has helped you get to know more about some of the rituals you want to include in your wedding.
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