Different traditions and cultures have a way of making things interesting when it comes to getting married. There must be some form of preparation for every couple who wishes to marry.
Some people's preparations are purely personal, while others' preparations are mandated by the law of the land. The Kalabar, Ifik, and Ibibio people of Nigeria, West Africa, are an example of a society where the law of the land necessitates preparation.
The fattening room is how people refer to this ritual.
Young women in the Ibibio, Kalabari, and Efik speaking areas are led to the fattening room when they reach puberty in order to prepare for motherhood. These young females are frequently confined to rooms for months at a time, where they are fed in order to gain weight in preparation for marriage.
According to the Guardian, getting fat in ancient times was a symbol of affluence, fertility, and beauty. According to tradition, not just any girl is allowed into the fattening room. One must possess virtue, purity, and demonstrated varginity in order to be admitted to the fattening room.
Furthermore, it is believed that if a female is able to acquire weight in a fattening room, she possesses all of the attributes listed above. The entire routine in the fattening room is to eat, sleep, and gain weight.
It all begins when the girl's father pays "Eme" (coral beads) to placate "Nku," the house's river goddess, before she is allowed into the fattening room. The idea is to convey that the girl's parents are rich enough to provide a pleasant life for her.
The girls are isolated from the outside world as soon as they enter the fattening room, with all contact with family and friends cut off. Only senior women from the community are allowed to visit the girls in order to teach them about marital etiquette and acceptable social norms and behavior.
The girls are fed a high-carbohydrate diet and are constantly hungry, causing them to gain weight. They are also given all-over cosmetic treatments, from head to toe, in order to make them appear lovely. They are also taught certain manners, such as how to greet visitors and family members.
However, due to western influence and its negative health repercussions, this culture is slowly fading away. It is, however, used in some communities.
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