Wedding in Benin

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As with many African countries, the Benin culture constitutes a number of different tribes. Naturally, wedding customs in Benin and traditional marriage practices will and do vary from tribe to tribe and culture to culture. Both monogamous as well as polygamous marriages are seen in the Benin culture but the traditional wedding is pretty much the same regardless.

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Among the Edo people of Benin, girls are traditionally betrothed at birth to young boys. As the girl approached puberty and the boy matured, his family his family would begin to send gifts to her family.

The two fathers will jointly arrange a formal day for the betrothal ceremony of their children. On the day of the betrothal, traditional gifts which include palm wine, kola nuts, and coconuts will be given by the groom to the bride's family. By tradition, the groom-to-be was required to work for his future in-laws and give them yams periodically. Nowadays however, the groom more often tends to give money and fabric for making clothes.

To make the marriage official, the groom gives a payment of money to the bride's family.

On the actual day of the wedding ceremony, the bride is taken to the groom's family home but her parents are not allowed to go with her. One of the older female relatives of the groom will wash the bride's hands with water that has money and cowrie shells soaking in it. This symbolizes fertility and shows that she is accepted by her husband's family. After the cleansing ritual, the bride must dine alone.

The bride's relatives will then return to their homes and the groom will send gifts for her parents through these relatives. He will then make an official visit to his in-laws' home a few days later. After his official visit to his in-laws they will now be permitted to visit his own home where their daughter now resides.