Categories: Ebira Beliefs

Irehu Iruvo Ose: Meaning, Myths and Significance in Ebiraland

In our previous articles, we mentioned that the Ebira people have many cultural beliefs and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. We have talked about some traditional festivals of Anabeira, and funeral rites, and in this article, we will be talking about a marital tradition or rite done for newly wedded women in Ebiraland.

Irehu Iruvo literally means sitting stool, Ose means wife, Irehu Iruvo Ose can be translated as sitting stool for a wife. It is a wooden stool given to a new bride by her mother or an older woman from her household to take along with her when she is going to her new home which is her husband’s house. The stool is believed to have a spiritual connection to the bride in her marital home. Older women in her household pray over the irehu iruvo before it is given to the bride. These prayers are meant to bestow upon the bride marital peace, prosperity, and fruitfulness in her new home.

There is a myth about what the Irehu Iruvo symbolizes. In Ebiraland, it is used as a representation of the bride’s place in her home. It is used to mean that as she is going to her husband’s house, she is going there to stay and live long in her marital home to perform her duties as both wife and mother to her children. Sitting on the Irehu Iruvo, will execute the majority of the significant responsibilities of her marital life, including cooking for her family, bathing, and nursing her newborn kids. I have witnessed this practice about three times in my family. I was surprised that such traditions are still in existence till date. Three of my sisters that got married in a span of 6 years back were given the irehu iruvo by my mother. She also performed the other rites necessary.

The Irehu Iruvo is unique from those found in furniture stores in that it has to be made from only three wood types renowned are renowned for their spiritual potency and fruitfulness in Ebiraland. The trees are vitellaria, Parkia biglobosa, and mahogany. I could remember that my mom had to contact someone from Okene to help her to get the irehu iruva, and when it was ready, it was sent down from Okene to her in Kwara State.

There is also another conception of the use of the Irehu Iruvo. There is what we call Isewere meaning “small things or a form of premarital gathering”, which is a significant aspect of marital rite in Ebira culture. The Isewere is usually done in secret as it is customary that no one knows about the union until the marriage takes place officially.

When a suitor goes to officially disclose his decision to marry a girl to her family, he goes along with some gifts and money for the parents of the girl he has an interest in marrying. Once parents agree to the union and the Isewere has been performed, the lady must not accept proposals from any suitor again.

The Isewere is followed by Isobanyin which implies “big things” and is the main marriage. During the Isobanyin, the bride’s face is covered when the wedding festival is ongoing, and the bride and husband sit on irehu iruvo facing one another and there will be witnesses from both families to witness the marriage.

This marks the end of this article. Thanks for reading. Please drop your thoughts in the comment box and share this post.

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