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The Naming Ceremony Culture in Edo State Nigeria

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(Last Updated On: December 25, 2016)
naming ceremony in Edo

One of the most important things in the life of every married person is to have a child, or children. So much joy accompanies the birth of a child after a 9-month long journey into the world.

A child is a gift from God, and the birth of one symbolizes the coming of good things into a family.

In Nigeria and in other parts of the world, there’s always a celebration that heralds the coming of a new child who has to be named in a ceremony many refer to as a Naming Ceremony.

What is a naming ceremony?
A naming ceremony refers to an event in which a newborn child is given a name or names. Nigeria’s large ethnicity is responsible for the diversity in the procedures of naming ceremonies. Depending on the tribe and religion, a naming ceremony can take about a few days to a few months after a child is born.
For the purpose of this post, we’ll focus on the culture of naming ceremony in Edo state Nigeria.One of the essential prerequisites for a naming ceremony is the name that’ll be given to the child. A name is an identifier, and can be likened to a Credit Card number. It’s obviously a vital necessity of humans, although a little less important than food and air. In many Nigerian cultures, names are given to a child based in the circumstances that surrounded the birth of the child, or based on events that happened at the time the child was born. For example, in Igbo land, the name “Somadina” is given to a child that happens to be an only child, and is also used when the parents are not sure if they are going to conceive again. The name “Somadina” literally means “I will not be alone” or “I don’t want to be alone”. In Yoruba land, the name Kehinde and Taiwo are often reserved for twins, while Idowu is given to the child that comes next after the twins. More so, Yewande is a name given to a girl whose grandmother just passed away before her birth.

Quite interesting, right? That’s a story for another day.

Now, here’s what you’ve been waiting for!

The Naming Ceremony in Edo

Like I mentioned earlier, the naming ceremony comes up between a few days and months after a child is born. The Edo’s perform their naming ceremonies on the 7th day after the birth of the child. Family friends, well wishers, relatives, neighbors… Everyone gathers around to say a prayer of long life and prosperity and many good things for the child and the parents. They don’t come empty handed. Some help to provide some of the following items which are always needed for the naming ceremony: kola but, water, gin, palm wine, palm oil, yam, sugar, honey, coconut to mention a few.

The eldest male in the family breaks the kola and says the opening prayers and thereafter, hands over the reins to the eldest female in the family who now officiates the event. One peculiar thing that happens during a naming ceremony in Edo is that the mother of the child is asked “what name she wants to call the child” 7 times. 6 out of those seven times, she says a name she knows will be rejected by the women present. E.g. she says eagle and the name is rejected. Before the 7th time, her husband would then whisper into her ears the name of the child and then she would tell the audience who would then clap and cheer and nod in affirmation, showing they have accepted the name.

Additional prayers follow and thereafter, gifts are presented to the newborn baby and the guests can give names and oral blessings to the child with shouts of “ise”(amen) accompanying each sentence.

Then everyone goes home happy for the success of the event.

Special thanks to Dawodu for throwing light on the naming ceremony of the Edo’s. Up next === Naming ceremony in Igbo land!

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