Monday, 4 August 2014

Kalenjin Dowry Ceremony

When the groom identifies a girl he will first go and tell his parents and the parents will inform the elders of the community. The elders will go deep into the family lineage and see if they have a relationship or have a common ancestor.  If they have a relationship or come from the same clan they will not marry because it is considered as a curse by the ancestors.
The groom elders/father will go to the bridegroom’s home and seek for permit to talk to the family elders. When they agree on the marriage proposal the bride’s clan elders will ask from the groom’s family. After one week they will come with the groom for a show up. On that day they will come with two sheep and two goats. After a long discussion the groom will be teased by the bridegroom’s aunts. The bride’s family will be blessed by the bride groom’s family while the bridegroom will be blessed by the bride’s family.
The groom elders will ask for the date of the wedding when they agree for the date the groom family will go and prepare the wedding and it is usually after two weeks. The bride groom was not allowed to be seen by anybody who is not her family member.
The Wedding Day
On that day the bride groom will go to the groom’s home with her family and clan elders. The bride groom will be taken to the special hut that has been made and decorated by the groom only.
Meal Preparation
The meals were prepared by both sides. The groom’s family will prepare the following delicacy: bull’s meat, sheep, goat and the sour milk. The bride groom’s family will only prepare ugali made of millet flour mixed with sorghum, cassava and maize and a special type of beans which is white in color. The groom and his clan elders will slaughter the animals without even a single drop of blood on the ground. The bride groom will then cook ugali for the whole family without any assistance and then go back to the hut. The groom’s family will prepare the meat.
Purpose of Preparing the Meal Together
The bridegroom and the groom’s family will share things and unite in case of any problem. When the groom and the clan elder slaughter the animals, blood should not be poured down that means their love will never break. When the bride groom prepares the ugali, she shows that she loves and cares for the family waiting for her and this shows that she will care for her husband.
Preparation of Sour Milk (Mursik)
First they will need a calabash and then make a bottle from it. After making the bottle they will then decorate using beads (sonoey) this bottle (soret) will be passed from one generation to another.
From time to time during wedding, initiation or funeral ceremonies they will use the bottle (soret). The bottle will be washed using a special wood called (siitett) this process is called siit and the siitett will produce sour taste ash (tei).This ash is used to speed the milk process of being sour. They will then put the milk for four days before the wedding day. On the third day they will remove the sour milk and then siit to kill any micro-organism that will cause diseases, and then the milk will be good to drink.
The Ceremony
After the preparation the bridegroom will be given food by groom’s mother and locked up there for the rest of the day.The bridegroom’s family and the groom’s family will eat in the same table but men will sit on one side and the children and women together. They will eat while talking.
They call it a day after eating and the final drink will be for the elders’ from both communities. The drink (mursik) will be poured in the ground and the rest drunk from the same bottle. That must be done during the right before realizing the groom to see the bride.
After the celebration one last ritual must be done before releasing the dowry , the groom will be taken by the elders to the hut. The elders will leave the groom to spend the night together. The groom was supposed to make love to his wife to see if she is a virgin. Early in the morning the elders and the bride groom’s family will come and see if their child is a virgin. If so the groom’s family will release the dowry and some two or three cows for the mother and a sheep.
If the girl is a virgin the dowry was paid in half and the other half will be taken every year to promote family unity. The bride’s family were given twenty sheep, twenty five goats, five bulls and seven cows in exchange with their girl. The ceremony will end with songs and dance.

Story Prepared By:
Caroline Jeptoo and Joyline Njeri
Ruaraka High School

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