Your dad and uncles have done their part and now it’s mum and your aunts time to shine at the ‘showing of the fire’.
This part of the getting married process is fun for the aunties but can be the source of nightmares for you for days to come. They gather around camp like fires (mbaulas or braziers; portable cooking stoves that use charcoal) the night before this event prepping vegetables and telling stories late in the night. You are taught a few things but retire early for a long sleepless night. The aunties are up very early the next morning and the cooking begins. You on the other hand; wake up with a running tummy, having had nightmares about the “Big Pot”.
Its time for you to come out of the room you have been sitting in for hours. Your hour of reckoning is upon you, its time to face the BIG POT. You are led by the aunties, hidden underneath a chitenge (traditional cloth of about 6m long) crawling to the BIG POT (this is where the scraped knees come in). There are drums playing and the aunties are happy, singing their traditional songs, money exchanges hands and you, the bride, are unveiled.
The BIG POT isn’t as bad as you thought…its actually quite fun once you get the hang of it. Plus, seeing your friends having a go at it after you is entertaining. (The BIG POT is where the Nshima (Zambian staple dish made from maizemeal) is cooked, to go with all the other yummy traditional dishes that have been prepared).
The food has been cooked, the uncles have blessed it and off it goes, escorted by the drummers and singing aunties and friends, to be delivered to hunk of a man and his family.
The purpose of the Ichilanga Mulilo- Your hunk of a man hubby-to-be and his family have been introduced to the foods from your family; a gesture that they are now welcome to dine with your family during your courtship and into your marriage.
Events such as this, though perhaps intimidating, are quite valuable in moulding you into you future husbands help- mate.
Stay tuned for more ….