In this story I would like to describe the wedding ceremony that take place among the Sodo Gurage People. And most marriages among the Sodo Gurages are arranged. The parents shape and control the lives of their children, not up to a certain age but until the children are married and leave the parental home. They sit counselors, judges and executors of their children’s interests. They choose, accept or refuse a spouse as they see fit. “Meskel” (finding of the true cross) is a grand festival among the Sodo Gurages, which is generously celebrated and is called “Adabna” by the local people.
Beginning Meskel until the seventh day, girls and boys sing and dance to the greatest of their happiness. It is on this occasion that the boy casts his eyes on the one that crack his heart and whom he intends to be his future spouse. He follows her ins and outs and searches for her residential area. As soon as finding out her permanent living quarter, the boys break the news to his parents and beg them to request the girl’s family for her hand. Being so overjoyed, the first step in fulfilling customs and traditions is for the parents of the young man to send the elderly to call on those of the young lady to propose a marriage.
The father of the boy, after fifteen days of the visit by the elderly sets forth with them to the would be bride’s parents. With these arrangements, a small party is usually held. On arrival, the guests will first be served with “tella” (traditional alcoholic drink) which will be followed by “Kocho”, “Kitfo” and “Ayib” (staple food of the Gurages). After they feast, the elderly will bless the leftover to give it to the young lady along with some butter. After eating her lot, the lady smears her body with butter.
In the presence of the elderly, the bridegroom’s father gives sixty birr as gift and promises to provide the bride with earrings and necklaces. The bride will have her fingers trimmed for which she is paid twenty birr by the groom’s family. With these arrangements completed and with the coming closer of the wedding day great preparations will be made on both sides of the family for the feast. Fifteen days before the marriage, the bride will be invited by her parents-in-law where she eats and drinks.
And a day before the wedding (usually on Saturday) she will be made to drink “kosso” (Anthelmintic medicine which is cure for the one who has a tapeworm) after which she will never taste any food until the next Monday. On her wedding day, she wears only under clothes and blanket and is kept behind curtain for the arrival of her bridegroom. At mid-day, with his cover on and wearing white muslin on his head the groom accompanied by his best men and friends rides on a horse back to his parents-in-law where he and the others will be welcomed with some traditional drinks, No food is served however.
Then they go to where the bride is clapping, dancing and ululating to the accompaniment of songs and drum beats. All these over one of her family carries her out of the house and mounts her on a horse and accompanied by the best man of the groom (both on a horse) and the bridegroom on another, she rides to her new home well announced. In this short essay I have described wedding in Sodo Gurages, indicating activities before and after the wedding, starting from marriage proposal. And I understood that, there are great similarities in the wedding ceremony among different ethnic groups in Ethiopia.