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25 July 2013

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Ohurikaka, a traditional Marriage Rites in Okrika

The journeys into matrimony which may be either through the traditional rites or court marriage accord a man and a woman full recognition as a couple. However, in Okrika, an ethnic group in Rivers State, Nigeria, marriage is not complete without the Ohurikaka, a highly placed marriage rite in the coastal community in Nigeria.

In Okrika, there are basically three stages of marriage (1) The Iyaa, (2) Igwa, and finally (3) Ohuru which is the Ohurikaka. If you are an intending groom, you have to
undergo the first one and confirm it with the second to legitimate the marriage after parental consent. For legitimacy of the marriage to be ascertained, all the stages of the marriage have to be carried out without omission.

Ohurikaka ceremony, a rite that stands the woman out from any crowd as okrika tradition demands. It commences with the groom accompanied by family members and friends of the bride’s compound

Women carry requested items, household items, and traditional attires necessary to perform this ceremony.

Following the confirmation of the required items, the marriage rite is complete when a traditional raffia mat is handed over to the couples.  The raffia is what they called “Ohuru” which they believe to make the marriage binding. The marriage once bound can never be withdrawn. If the couples have problems leading to divorce, the woman still belongs to the previous man even if she marries another man. In fact, according to Okrika tradition, the woman and her possession including children still belongs to the previous man that performed the Ohurikaka.

According to an elderly person in Okrika port, the woman after Ohurikaka festival does not belong to any other person. Every part of her body is for the groom and his family. It does not mean that she cannot do anything in her paternal family but at least  ¾ of it is for the groom's family.

With the Ohurikaka in place, the marriage turns a perfect one and now gains full recognition according to the custom and tradition of the Okrika people    

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