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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
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
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.
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