In Rwanda, it is believed that incorporating traditional wedding customs into modern weddings gives honor to the ancestors. As such, it is important to get more information about the different Rwanda wedding traditions. Look at the list below!
- Wedding Venue
The traditional wedding is usually held at an aunt’s home. A special tent made with leopard print material and decorated with beautiful traditional baskets and other handicrafts is set up for the bride. Tents for the different families are set up so that the two families face each other.
A relative of the man points out a woman who qualifies to be a potential bride. The man’s family then selects a man (called the Umaranga) to act as a mediator between the two families. The Umaranga is expected to research the woman’s ancestry, as well as the general conduct of her relatives.
- Gufata Irembo
After the investigation is complete and the man’s family is satisfied that they want this girl, either his father or an envoy will visit the girl’s father. The aim of this visit is to declare the man’s intention to marry the girl. If the girl’s father agrees, arrangements are made for the introduction ceremony, the Gusaba.
The Gusaba is one of the Rwanda wedding traditions that are still widely practiced today. At this ceremony, the Umaranga officially requests for the girl as a bride to the young man. This process involves an interesting battle of wits, involving riddles, tongue twisters, and pranks from the girl’s side. The family of the bride invites people from the local community to this function, as the welfare of the girl is their collective responsibility.
Once the Umaranga and the man’s family succeed at Gusaba, the next step is payment of dowry, also called Gukwa. According to Rwandese tradition, the dowry is strictly a cow or several cows. In some instances, agricultural tools are given alongside the cows.
Also, the bride is processioned towards the groom’s family by women carrying gourds of milk. The milk is a gift for the groom’s family, to quench their thirst after a long negotiation. The procession is very colorful, with four men armed with spears guarding the bride, and traditional dancers singing and dancing with excitement.
After the negotiations are over, the bride’s side invites the groom’s side to share a drink called Impamba. This drink is enjoyed on the long journey home. The groom’s family may also be offered a meal by the girl’s family if they have travelled a long distance.
After completing the Gusaba and the Gukwa, the families meet again to fix the wedding date. In modern times, however, only the bride, groom and their immediate families meet privately for this discussion.
Before the wedding, the bride spends several weeks secluded, under the care of her aunt. This aunt gives her advice on how to take care of a home and a family.
The bride also goes through intensive beauty treatment. The daily application of perfumed cow-ghee and special herbs gives her softer and smoother skin. In addition, the bride must adhere to a strict diet. The result of the treatment and diet is a glowing bride on the wedding day!
The Ingobyi is an important part of Rwanda wedding traditions. On the wedding day, the bride does not walk around, instead sitting in a traditional carrier known as Ingobyi. The Ingobyi has two handles placed on the shoulders of two strong men who carry her to the groom.
Rwanda Marriage Traditions
Before this ceremony, the bride has not shown herself in public and has refrained from work. On this day, she prepares a meal for her family and her in-laws for the first time. Her family, excited to see her, bring several items to help her settle in better.
- Agashingura Cumu
At the end of the Gutwekurura ceremony, the host offers the guests a drink called Agashingura Cumu (that which pulls out the spear). In the past, men who travelled with spears would plant them at the entrance of the home they had gone to visit. The drink would symbolically give guests the energy to pluck out their spears and depart.
Rwanda Wedding Dresses
Most brides prefer to wear the Mushanana for the traditional ceremonies, specifically the Gusaba ceremony. The Mushanana is made of a combination of light and heavy silk. It consists of a wrapped skirt gathered at the hips, and a sash draped over one shoulder. The majority of the female guests also wear similar outfits, in bold colors.
Weddings in Rwanda are colorful and exciting, thanks to the influence of Rwanda wedding traditions. If you want to have a wedding that people will talk about for a long time, include some of these traditions!