DO YOU KNOW WHAT IHE NRISA (IGBA NKWU) MEANS?

DO YOU KNOW WHAT IHE NRISA (IGBA NKWU) MEANS?

 


Ihe Nrisa (Igba Nkwu)

Ihe Nrisa is the traditional marriage ceremony in Mbano generally. This ceremony is called Igba Nkwu by Anambra and Enugu people.  Just as the name connotes, it is all about eating and sharing food items, which is the high point of traditional marriage in Mbano.

The groom having fulfilled all the preambles in the marriage including iku aka na uzo (knocking on the door) ibu zu mmanya (completion of wine carrying), is given a traditional marriage list which contains all the item required by the bride’s family and kindred for the marriage. A date is fixed for the Ihe Nrisa when he will come with his immediate and extended family, kindred and village people, friends, relatives and well-wishers to meet his bride’s family and relatives too.

The marriage list is divided into 3 parts. The first part is called Ibu Efere, which contains a list of things the groom will buy for his bride. These are her first clothes after marriage.

The second part is a list of things the groom will buy for the bride’s parents.

The third part include a list of drinks and food items for the family and kindred.

After the presentation, counting, haggling and negotiations that follow where the things in the list is not complete, the groom and his parents are excused to go discuss and settle the bride price privately.

After this, the ceremony continues and at the end of the day, the family of the groom takes their new wife home escorted  by a few maidens.

Having taken his new wife home, the groom now books an appointment with his inlaws on when they will come to know his home too.  The inlaws will, on this day settle their daughter finally with whatever property and gifts they have for her. This marks the completion of the marriage ceremony in Mbano.

CHILD BIRTH

The birth of a child is an event that is always celebrated across the Igbo land and it is in three phases.

First, when a child is born, the father sends words to his family (after naming the child at first sight), who in turn formally announces the birth of the child round the compound. The special announcement is called “Iha Oro”.  They will recant a special new baby’s chant and songs and make special noises such that anybody who hears them would rush to where the noise emanated, being the ancestral home of the new baby or his or her father’s home. The visitors and well-wishers would be entertained with whatever food and drinks available and given white baby powder to rub on their neck.

The next stage is that the father of the new baby would inform his inlaws of the delivery of a new baby by their daughter, which also serves as an invitation for the Mother of the bride (new mother) to come to take care of her daughter and the new baby, an activity we call “Omugwo”. The inlaws as well repeats the Iha Oro in their own family and the grandmother of the new baby then prepares to come on Omugwo for a period of three months traditionally.  However, these days due to economic hardship and trends in the society, many people reduce it to the period of  two weeks to two months. The grandmother is expected to buy special food items including traditional leaves and herbs that are usually administered on newly delivered women. When these items are ready, off the woman goes to her inlaws house to take care of her daughter who is expected to be on Omugwo for the period of her stay, meaning she will be resting and eating without doing any serious or hard job.

After the Omugwo, the grand-mother of the new baby is set to return to her own home.  Her daughter and son inlaw would prepare for her home coming.  They will not forget to send a bottle of hot drink for the father inlaw. When the woman gets back home, she initiates another round of Iha Oro to announce her return and shares part of the food items she came back with to the women who came around to welcome her.  This marks the end of child birth and naming ceremony in Ehime and Mbano generally.

BURIAL

Burial is always long, tedious and money guzzling in Ehime. When anyone is lost  in Ehime, elders in the family meets with the immediate family of the deceased to discuss the burial programme.  A date will be agreed and children of the deceased will meet elders of the kindred and village to communicate the date to them.  The Financial Secretary of the kindred, village or community will go through their records to ascertain if the deceased has an outstanding levy or any other commitment.  The bereaved family will settle the deceased’ indebtedness before going forward with the burial arrangements.

Indebtedness settled, the elders and leaders of the village would go through their diaries to see if the date is clashing with any other burial in the village or any another important programme in the village or community.  There are days when burial is forbidden in different villages (some villages do not conduct burial on their market day, etc).  Their approval will be given if the date is not clashing with any programme, and if it is, a new date will be taken.  Where the deceased is a church-goer, the priest is approacheda and the Chrcu will check the scribes for approval to vbs granted.

When a woman dies, her first daughter would officially go to her maternal people CRYING, to notify them that their daughter, her mother is very ill and they need to come and see her.  (Mbega Akwa).  She is forbidden from telling them that her mother is dead and this programme serves as invitation to her maternal people to come for the burial.

The family is expected to pay all the outstanding medical and mortuary bills, buy the coffin/casket, engage entertainers, invite the deceased maternal people (for a man), the relatives, inlaws far and wide, friends, Umu Nna (kinsmen), Umu Ada (women from the village who are married outside the village), and well-wishers.  On the eve of the burial, after the wake-keep, (Christian or traditional), Umu Ada will come and query the children of the deceased on how well they took care of their late father or mother and where they are not satisfied, fines are imposed on and paid by the children of the deceased. After this, Umu Ada will settle also for merriment.

Other activities on the eve of the burial ceremony include the reception of the maternal people of a deceased man.

Early in the morning of the burial day, the villagers will gather for the digging of the grave and the family of the deceased will present them wine and food for the job.  Visitors to the site and people coming around are expected to drop money into a plate for the grave diggers but this is not compulsory, just obligatory.

Later on in the morning of the burial day, the processing starts with bringing in the remains of the deceased for lying in state in his/her home. it is forbidden to conduct lying in state in another man’s house.  After the lying in state, the priest conducts the burial programme (at home or in the church).

After the burial talk, the priest or elders will lead a procession to the grave site, conduct the dust to dust and the body is lowered and covered.  After the interment, the merriment follows.

After the normal burial ceremony comes the kindred burial.  The children of the deceased are expected to present a goat or cow to their late parent(s).

For deceased titled men and women, they have special burial programmes, conducted and witnessed by only members of their group and including the 8 market days ceremony for Ndi Nze na Ozo (traditional title holders).  For traditional healers and herbalists, they have their own special burial programmes and only their members partake in the ceremony.

Throughout these ceremonies the spouse(s) of the deceased is not expected to engage in any work or outdoor trips.

 After the burial of a church-goers, the deceased family hosts thanksgiving to mark the end of the burial ceremony and the family members return to their respective bases.  The same thing applies to traditionalists who host a ceremony (Igbasa Ulo Akwa meaning Ending the Cries), the heads of the spouse and children of the deceased will be shaved by the kinsmen as a sign that they lost a spouse, father or mother after which crying seizes and mourning period starts and the family of the deceased would return to their jobs and bases respectively.

After Igbasa Ulo Akwa comes the official mourning period, which traditionally observed for one year but some people now observe it for 6 or 3 months.  Within this period, the spouse and children of the deceased are expected to wear sack cloth (traditionally dark clothes only but some people these days adopt white clothes) leave their hairs and beards unkempt throughout the mourning period.  At the end of this period, a ceremony to remove the sack cloth will be hosted by the deceased’s family and all their sack clothes will be burnt.  This marks the end of the burial ceremony in Ehime and Mbano generally.

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