The Gender Dimension of Songs in Maragoli Marriage Ceremonies
The marriage song in the Maragoli community has been the monopoly of women over the years. There are various reasons why women play a central role in the marriage song. In the first instance, the culture requires a woman to leave her parents' home and join her husband's family when she gets married. The composers of the marriage song, being themselves women, artistically portray this cultural requirement by highlighting the woman's fears, anxiety and insecurity at the prospect of going to the unknown. These feelings are revealed in the sad moods and gloomy atmosphere created in some of their songs on an otherwise festive and happy occasion such as a wedding. The women's reaction to the society's gender roles is another reason for their domination of . the marriage song. They see the society's distribution of gender roles as oppressive to them and since the very society has denied them a forum to air their views, they utilize the marriage ceremony to raise gender issues. They use satire to bring out the futility of the society's failure to revise its economic empowerment of the man. Besides, in their clever use of paradox, the women highlight the complexities of life in marriage relationships. This enables the prospective bride to stop idealizing marriage and come to grips with the realities of life. Moreover, the women carefully choose to use a wide range of words including foreign ones for aesthetic and cathartic effects. Through semantic oddities and punning, women not only relieve the sad moods in the songs but they also underline the continuity of feminine gender roles. The study therefore shows the extent to which the marriage song in the Maragoli community subtly raises gender issues.