Maasai are people with old and curious wedding traditions that are still widely in use. Some of them are adorable and typically African, others may look a bit strange for an outsider. But these wedding rituals and customs are a large part of Maasai culture. So, let’s take a closer look and find out more about these particular Kenyan wedding traditions. For example, why Maasai newlyweds don’t spend their first night after the wedding together?
Maasai brides cry aloud at their wedding
There is a tradition for Maasai women to cry and wail loudly on the morning of their wedding. Particularly, they are crying while leaving their parents’ home. After the ceremony, the bride won’t return to it, she leaves for good and moves to her husband’s house. These tears are overdramatic to show her loved ones that she cares and is sad to leave them. But, nevertheless, it’s a new beginning for her.
Arranged marriages are popular in the community
A lot of Maasai marriages are arranged by the bride and groom’s parents. In most parts of the world in the 21st century, arranged marriages are out of fashion already, but here, in African rural areas, it is still totally acceptable to organize a wedding for your children without asking their opinion. And the majority of young men and women take it just fine. In this culture, it is prestigious to be married, especially for a woman, so some females don’t care about love or any such thing, it’s enough just to have a husband to take care and provide for them.
Dowry in livestock
Maasai men pay a dowry for their bride in livestock. Cattle is a very important and valuable asset in Africa. That’s why the wealth of a man is determined by the amount of livestock he owns. A woman usually takes only one or a few chests with her belongings to her new home. Everything else must be provided by her husband.
This tradition looks really weird to people accustomed to European-style marriage ceremonies. Maasai fathers have their own very special way of blessing their bride-to-be daughters by spitting on their head and chest. It is supposedly a way to trick fate by showing it that they aren't too supportive of their daughters’ new family. It should work reversely, and the ritual is believed to bring happiness and good luck to the newlyweds.
Sometimes, the respected guests also spit the drink they have on the ground.
Wedding guests split into groups
The wedding guests that have arrived at the marital home of a new couple split into groups by age and by gender. In such communities, status means a lot, as well as gender. So, the guests celebrate together, but it is kind of a union of several groups rather than a gathering of equals.
The wedding dinner is extremely important for African weddings, including Maasai weddings. For some people, it’s a rare occasion when they can eat until stuffed. Also, meat is always served at weddings, and the dinner isn’t a plated meal or the like, guests just take as much food as they want from a shared pot. This shared meal is a significant occasion for the community.
Unlike in practically any other tradition around the world, Maasai bride and groom don’t spend their wedding night together right after the wedding. The first two nights they spend separately – the groom with his male friends and the bride with her female friends. The groomsmen choose a new name for their friend’s new wife. The community tries to do everything they can to help the newlyweds ease into their life together and their becoming a significant part of the village life.