Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Babaka Bride Price

What an awesome day! I was invited to attend a Bride Price Ceremony in the Central Province of Papua New Guinea. A day of colour, of joy and a reminder of the traditional ways of Melanesian culture. It was kinda like revisiting those family weddings that one can remember when one is a teenager and some unscrupulous Uncle is taking the piss by plying one with alcohol...

But this time the unsober feeling came from the joy expressed in the family that attended the ceremony and the local village people who crowded the front yard with support and well wishes. As one of only three white people in attendance, I kinda felt like a fly on the wall who was privvy to too much information, but the hospitality and warmth provided by the Bride and her ceremony was more than enough to feel welcome and to feel part of her family.

And, the children of the family and of the village behaved the same way that one did when one was 8 years old and attending the wedding of some Aunty or Uncle, whom one may never see again for some time. The kids ran amok, and played chasy and were cheeky to all of the vintage crew and also those not much older than they.

What a special day, witnessing the delivery and distribution of 50 bags of rice and flour, pigs, yams, shell money and the modern equivalent; cash, all attributing to the value of the Bride in question. A local man of the cloth arose and prayed for the Bride and her Price. Senior family blokes all got up and spoke of not losing a daughter but gaining a son (well, it sounded like that to me) and then the handover ceremony where the Bride was to leave her family for the comfort of her new Husband...

Come to think of it, I am not sure if I saw the Husband throughout the ceremony??? This day is for the Bride and is an event I sha'n't forget for some time to come. Ever.

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