History of iru mgbede

Updated: 4/28/2022
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11y ago

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Being an Ngwa Igbo, I know iru mgbede as a right of passage from an Igbo lady that is ready for marriage. Iru mgbede was done in the traditional Igbo days. I asked my mom if she did mgbede when she was younger and she said no they don't do it anymore. Well, in Iru mgbede, the young maiden would be seperated from all her daily duties like cleaning the compound, fetching water from the stream, cooking, etc. She would be put in what they called a fattening room which was a secluded hut where the maiden would be fed special foods that would fatten her. Also in the fattening room the maiden would be given advice on traditional and general aspects of womanhood, such as how to raise a family and how to keep a home. After months of being in the fattening room, the maiden is to go through the graduation ceremony of iru mgbede. This is called the "ipu ama" or public display of her elegance and beauty. Here she entertains the guest by doing a dance which today is called Mgbede. She is to dance to the music while an umbrella is being held above her so that she does not sweat. The maiden usually also carries a fan with her so she doesn't sweat. She'll be dressed in a wrapper with jigida (waistbeads) and uli painted on her body. She'll sometimes also has a cow tail with her as decoration. In Ala Ngwa the maiden will dance by shaking her waist which is the main dance done in Ala Ngwa. After the mgbede, any suitors that want her hand in marriage will come to her compound and discuss bride price. Reenactments of Iru mgbede are still done today.

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