Hausa traditional marriage is mostly based on Islamic rites, and not as time consuming or expensive like the Igbo and Yoruba traditional marriage ceremonies.
The culturally rich events of a Hausa traditional marriage tend to last about a week, starting with a wedding Fatiha and ending with the main wedding reception.
The Hausa tribe mainly reside in the northern part of Nigeria, and are predominantly Muslims, while a few are Christians.
Though a great number of people in this region speak the Hausa language, different tribes among them have their own individual unique dialects.
However, the process leading up to the marriage is slightly similar to what obtains in the other regions in Nigeria.
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The introduction stage
When a man sees the woman he wants to marry, he has to first of all seek permission from her parents. The family of the bride-to-be will then conduct an investigation on the background of the man to determine his religious beliefs, ethics, moral and family customs, as well as every important details concerning his upbringing.
The groom-to-be if approved by the woman’s family, is allowed to see her briefly but any form of physical contact, romance or courting before marriage is highly discouraged.
Once the woman accepts the marriage offer, the man sends his parents or guardians as well as elderly relatives to formally ask for her hand in marriage.
On their trip to the bride’s family home to seek her parent’s consent, the groom’s family take along items such as kolanuts, bags of salt, sweets, etc.
It is during this visit that the groom’s parents will make their intentions known. Gaisuwais is a kind of formal approval from the bride’s family to the groom’s. This is where the bargain for the bride’s dowry begins.
Sadaki or dowry
Usually, the bride price starts from a minimum amount known as ‘Rubu Dinar’ in Hausa, an Arabic phrase which means ‘quarter kilogram of gold piece’, to the highest amount the groom can afford to pay.
It is most preferred for the bride price to be as low as possible, because according to Islamic teachings, the lesser the amount paid as the bride’s dowry, the more blessings that will come to the marriage. Payment of the dowry is known as Sadaki.
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The process of setting the date is called Sarana. the wedding date is fixed during this visit, by both families.
Fatihah or wedding day
The wedding day itself is called Fatihah, and it is the day of joining the two families.
As part of Hausa tradition, it is the duty of the husband to provide a house for the couple to live in, while furnishing the house is the full responsibility of the bride’s family.
At the wedding Fatihah, women are to remain indoors preparing the bride for her new life as a wife, which is referred to as Kunshi. The Kunshi is similar to a bridal shower.
The wedding reception is known as Walimah, and it is carried out according to the taste of the families involved. It is usually held after the Fatihah, and it goes on for a whole day with food and drinks available for family, friends and well wishers.
At the end of the celebration, the bride is taken to her husband’s house after receiving pieces of marital advise from parents, aunts, uncles, parents-in-law.
It is only after the religious ceremony [Nikkhai] that every traditional wedding rite can take place.
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Every other thing you need to know
1. Kayan Zance
This is the list of items the groom’s family provides as soon as the bride’s family accepts their wedding proposal.
The list of items includes but is not limited to cookware, furniture, fabrics beauty products, shoes, underwear, cash (Kudin Gaisuwa)
If the groom’s family is rich enough, they may be asked to provide a house for the couple while the bride’s family has full responsibility of furnishing the house, especially her room, living room and the kitchen. All these are done before the wedding proper
2. Wedding Fatiha [Daurin Aure]
The Fatiha is the most significant event of the entire wedding ceremony.
As opposed to what obtains in many other cultures, in the Hausa culture it is a representative from the groom and bride’s family usually does exchange of vows and not the bride and groom.
They do this in the presence of a religious priest and wedding guests. Prayers are then offered to the newly wedded couple and celebration continues.
3. Wuni [Sa lalle]
The event is strictly for the ladies. This is when the bride gets to spend the last bit of free time with her friends and female members of her family, in her father’s house.
A mixture of henna is made and used to make beautifully designs on the bride’s hands, palms and legs. Her friends and family also get henna designs on their hands but not as elaborate as the bride.
4. Kamun Amariya
Kamu means catch the brides and it is one of the oldest and most interesting events in the Hausa wedding tradition.
To get the bride, the groom’s family negotiates with the bride’s friends for her release her to them.
This is a really fun event and negotiation may take up to 30 minutes followed by a fun reception.
5. Sayan Baki
In some parts of the north, this ceremony takes place to add more colour and glamour to the wedding ceremony.
The Sayan Baki is a negotiation between the groom’s men and the bridesmaids, debating on the amount to be paid before the bride is allowed to speak to her groom.
6. Kai Amariya
This is when family and friends escort the bride to her matrimonial home to be well received by the groom’s family.
This is usually preceded by prayers and advises from her family. This is not the end of events in the Hausa cultural marriage.
Depending on how well to do the families are, there is usually a grand reception to end the entire wedding ceremony. This includes, food, music and entertainment.