Weddings anywhere in the world are regarded as very important ceremonies and in Rwanda, there are several traditions that are followed to ensure that the ceremonies remain in the memory of the couple. It is imperative that couples know what these traditions are to ensure that their wedding ceremonies enjoy the blessing of the elders.
We have brought you a few of these interesting facts about Rwandan wedding traditions.
It is important that the couple seek the consent of their parents before the wedding ceremony is conducted. This consent signifies the parents’ approval while it is also seen as a sign of respect.
Two wedding ceremonies
In Rwanda, there are always two wedding ceremonies. The first is the traditional wedding ceremony while the second is the church or civil ceremony. The second cannot be conducted without the first.
The mushanan is the traditional wedding dress for the bride as well as other women attending the ceremony. It is made of a silk material which is matched with a long wrapped skirt while the shoulder is covered with a sash. Usually, the bride’s mushanan is unique even though almost all the women at the ceremony wear something quite similar.
Traditional Wedding venue
In Rwanda, the traditional wedding ceremony is usually held at the bride’s aunt’s house. This aunt is the person that introduces the groom to the attendees of the ceremony before the dowry is paid.
The bride’s entrance into the wedding venue is usually an amazing sight. She comes in flanked with four bodyguards, each carrying a spear. She also has four friends and another friend who is married and a mother as well as two young girls walking with her.
Along with her majestic entrance, the bride does not walk into the venue. She is carried in on the traditional carrier known as an ingobyi. It has two handles via which two young men carry the bride on their shoulders.
Wedding venue arrangement
The venue is usually arranged in a very strategic manner. There are always three tents which are arranged in a U-shape. The two tents opposite each other house both families while the one in the middle, which is considerably smaller, is for the couple and their friends. The bridal tent is usually decorated with animal print, decorative baskets, and lots of handcrafts.
It is normal for each family to pick a representative to speak on their behalf during the wedding ceremony. The Umaranga represents the groom’s family and carries out a detailed research about the bride, her ancestry, and the conduct of her relatives. He takes it a step further by asking for the bride at the Gusaba ceremony.
The usual dowry requested is a cow or a couple of cows. The cow stands as compensation for taking their daughter. After the dowry has been collected, the women from the bride’s family move towards the groom’s family with gourds of milk.
The host of the ceremony offers the groom’s family a drink called Impamba as soon as they are ready to leave after the ceremony. It is meant to quench their thirst and prepare them for the journey ahead. In some cases, the groom’s family is offered food.