I study history and humanities at the university. The history, culture, and tradition of a people anywhere interested me.
An Iria Bo Maiden
The Hebrew scripture ask the question: ‘Who can find a virtuous woman?’ Proverbs 3:1. Yet, most girls literate or not has paid the high price to remain in a state of virtue before marrying a man.
The Iria bo is a virtuous lady or pure virgin that pass out of the maidenhood rites to marry a husband. It’s a costly and expensive ceremony, and only rich parents, and well-to-do spouse sponsor their girls in the pageant.
- Significance of a virtuous Iria Bo.
- The Poem: Virtuous Iria Bo.
- The cultural Iria Bo ceremony.
- Sponsoring the Iria gig.
- The future.
A Beautiful Maiden Fit for Iria Ceremony
Significance of a Virtuous Iria Bo
- She’s faithful to her ‘heart-trod’ husband.
- She treats her husband well and sees to his well-being and the family.
- Her husbands success, advancement, and that of the family are her priority.
- She’s an ambassador of the family.She encourages and practice drift within the household.
She takes delight in preparing the favourite meals of the family and sees to the proper house keeping.
Traditionally, she's a very respectable lady in the community.
The Cultural Iria Bo Ceremony
The Fattening Process
Any grown-up lady that wants to undergo the Iria Bo rites, will be confirmed into a fattening room for up to a month or two. Here in the fattening room they’ll be fed with very costly food stuffs fresh fish, pound yams sweeten with ripe plantains, and with rich palm oil.
In the fattening rooms, they movements are restricted only to bathing in the rivers. They’ll forbidden to make a visit to any person. But any person, including well-wisher, can visit the maidens, taste their delicate meals, and present them gifts. They just stay inside the room and eat to fatten themselves for a month and two. During this time also, their body is being decorated with all sort of can wood available to beautified themselves.
The Poem: Virgin Virtuous Iria Bo
Virtuous Iria Bo,
Your beauty compare Nefertiti.
Your virtue is better than precious stones.
Your beauty delude the white man,
and he though you’re a mermaid.
But when he saw your legs,
he said you’re a mermaid in human form!
Virtuous Iria Bo,
Can you dance?
D ‘you know how to dance?
Many frail elderly women
has surpassed you in dancing.
Come, dance to my music.
Dance a good dance,
swing your waist from side-to-side,
to my hearts delight.
Virtuous Iria Bo,
I sponsored you for the virtue you possessed.
My soul delights in you,
virtuous lady run,
the masquerade is on track.
I bear the cost for your feeding,
I paid for the Iria materials
to enhanced your beauty.
But your heart
is after your mertinee!
The Iria Bo Dance
The Majestic Dressing of an Okrika Iria Bo Girl
The Cultural Iria Bo Ceremony
In the Wakirike(Okrika) country, especially in precolonial times, the Iria Bo, or virtuous lady is expected to fulfill the rudiments of marriage rites before marrying a man after her heart.
When she has gone through the rites, that gave her a license to marry a man especially, in the immediate family. But these days these virtuous woman is free to marry a man from any country.
At 15 years and above, a lady is fit and ripe for the Iria gig. But she has to be sponsored by her parents, relations, or spouse. It's a costly and expensive ceremonial rite.
Seriously, the Iria is a significant rite of passage for maidenhood. Wakirike girls are very happy to be induced into the Iria Bo fame. They know they’ll got the license to marry men with financial freedom that’ll cater for them and their off-springs.
Nevertheless, any issue that results from a relationship other than marriage, that is ‘friendship’ is called Leki-ria. This is frown at because the respondent at times has been known to refute to the well being of the mother and child. Therefore, a beauty is encouraged to go for the Iria pageant so that as she graduates, her significant half can carter for her and the children. Any virtuous lady that has attained the marriage age of fifteen years and above goes for the Iria Bo rite of passage.
Status of the Girl Child Before The Colonial Times
In the Wakirike or Okrika country, toddlers or kids were always naked, except on special occasions. Whether it was at a public or private setting, the child go naked even to the market to buy some wares.
When they’re approaching puberty, specific the girl child, the parents or wards will like to induce them into the Iria Bo gig. The girl will now covered up her nakedness with the wrapper provide to her by her father or mother. The girl’s dad, if he’s well-to-do, can provide all the ceremonial instruments. A costly piece of ‘George’ clothe two and a half yards is the first requirement or gift. Some parents are not able to provide it, even in this modern times.
With this present of George clothe, the damsel wrap it over her body to cover the thigh up to the breast. Only her shoulder, arms, and legs remain naked.
Sponsoring the Iria Gig
Actually, it’s the men or parents that has the financial backing that sponsors their wards, or girl child. To be induced into the Iria Bo festivity is costly. So parents who sponsored their wards choice or rather directed their girls to choose the man most likely to carter for them.
Speak Your Mind
The Iria Bo rites trends and fluctuate for a while, and seems to have a bleak future. Foreign western culture is responsible for this fluctuation. But thank goodness, it was resurrected in the year 2018. Few are now willing to participate in the festival.
But with cash inducements, some softer sex has gone for it. Salute to a Wakirike traditionalist whose ingenuity make the parade a come back. My salute these days to every virtuous Iria Bo!
Tradition comes and go in all society. The Wakirikenes (the Okrika peoples)are not an exemption. But there are watch dogs of culture and tradition that sees to it a community is not completely deprived of her customary rights. Therefore, the Iria Bo rites among the Okrika people continues to linger on
- The New Scofield Reference Bible, by C. I. Scofield, Oxford University Press.
- The Cultural Heritages of the Wakirikes(The Okrika) People, by Chief E. D. W. Opuagulaya, CSS Press, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
Contemporary General Studies, by Dr. Josiah D. Atemie, & Dr. Nelson Onuobia(editors), Hercon-Universities Series, University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
4. The cultural Iria cerenony.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Miebakagh Fiberesima