Luo Wedding Traditions

The Luo is a tribe found on the Lake Victoria basin in the East African country of Kenya. Currently, they constitute the third largest tribe in Kenya, accounting for about 13% or 3 million of the country’s population. Some of them have moved to the neighboring countries of Tanzania and Uganda. Unlike in Canadian cities like Toronto where weddings are colorful with many wedding photos, culture permeates Luo wedding activities for this tribe. From birth to death, traditions and culture dictate the society. Recently however, this cultural fabric is disintegrating and many traditions are losing acceptance.

A Luo wedding is a very significant event among the Luo and remaining unmarried is considered inappropriate. Thus to enable all people to get married, polygamy is widely practiced. Despite the many tribes in this populous nation, many Luos still marry within the Luo ethnic group. With the coming of Christianity, many Luo weddings are performed in churches, just like Toronto weddings, with many wedding photos to show for it.

Before a wedding, women are required to organize the menu. Usually, the bride and bridegroom take the financial responsibility of ensuring that everything is catered for. A bridal party of up to twenty people can be organized. Before the wedding day, the bridegroom must visit the bride’s village, accompanied by elders from his village. Usually, the bridegroom must arrive in style and usually this means a fleet of cars. There are many wedding photos taken at this point. All this is done on the eve of the wedding and the bridegroom is required to give everything he is asked for by both the in-laws and the village elders.

The wedding usually lasts the entire day. Wedding photos are taken while the bridegroom goes to the brides homestead and picks her up early in the morning. From there they make their way to the church for the ceremony. This is a typical western ceremony as witnessed in Toronto. After the church ceremony, they go to the reception, which is held in a venue that can accommodate a large number of people. Usually it is a field or a designated hall or even the bridegroom’s home. Here the community is invited to a large feast and people bring gifts to the couple. People of the community are allowed to speak and offer words of wisdom to the now newly married couple. At times enacted demonstrations or plays may be performed to entertain the guests.

After the reception, where many wedding photos are taken, there is an evening party, usually for a few designated individuals. The couple opens the dance floor with a slow romantic dance and after the first dance, the rest join in. The bridegroom is expected to pay for the drinks and food that is consumed. This party usually lasts the whole night even after the already exhausted couple retires for the night.

As Luo’s embrace western culture and practices, honeymoons and anniversaries are becoming common. In Toronto, luxury vehicles accompany many wedding couples and as result, many Luo people who have the financial capacity have had weddings just like those in Toronto right in their homeland. With the changing cultures, the traditional wedding is slowly being replaced by the western wedding style.