The Moriah Ole Time Wedding, one of the marquee events of the Tobago Heritage Festival, is known to be an exciting and interesting production from start to finish. With this year’s theme, “What in the dark does come to light,” members of the Moriah village council promise to deliver another memorable show on Saturday.
Co-ordinator of the Moriah heritage group Ingrid John-Jack told Newsday last Thursday the group began rehearsals months ago because they understand its historic significance. In the past, Tobagonians took great pride in marriages, especially in the Moriah village. Today, villagers continue to work towards keeping the rich history of weddings in Moriah alive.
The idea of honouring Tobago's heritage originated after TT gained independence in 1962. The late Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams wrote to all village councils in Tobago asking them to create a production on a practice significant to them. The Tobago Heritage Festival was born in 1986 when Jacob Delworth Elder (JD Elder), born in Charlotteville, presented the plan to the village councils.
At present, Moriah Ole Time Wedding remains one of the most anticipated events on the annual heritage calendar. Every year, many travel to Tobago to witness the spectacle and join in the fun. Visitors are welcomed to join in the signature wedding procession which involves a special step dance, fully focused on the timing of the footwork to the sound of violins and tambrin drums. The procession lasts up to two-and-a-half hours from the Moriah Moravian church to the Moriah recreational grounds.
John-Jack said this event signifies all of Tobago – its people, food, dialect, culture and beliefs.
“One person would join in the procession holding a canister and two pillows full of sheets and clothes; this means the bride won’t be leaving her parents home naked. The lady balancing the breadfruit on her head signifies the bride is a virgin. The lady with the coal pot and iron is telling you the bride can do her husband’s laundry and cook for him, because we used to iron with the coal pot.”
John-Jack said previously when there was a wedding in Moriah, villagers would wear their best clothes; if not, they will be laughed at and humiliated.
The Moriah Ole Time Wedding, this Saturday, like every other year, will begin at 1pm with the wedding ceremony at the Moriah Moravian church. This year, Chantel Augustine and Kishion Cooper will act as the bridge and groom. “During the ceremony, there will be someone acting as a macco. That person was not invited, he just heard about the weeding and decided to come and cause trouble. He will act the role throughout the entire wedding, just as it was long ago.”
John-Jack said there will be slight alterations to enhance this year's event.
“What we want to add this year, when the bride is dressing, her godmother along with other elders in the village will come to give her some marriage advice on the ups and downs of life. She will be told what she is expected to do in marriage and how she should treat her husband.”
She said the night before the wedding – bachelor night – people in the village would come together to assist with preparing the food, “we would have a little celebration and play tambrin drum music where you do a little dance and anyone who come will get our special pork tea (a soup using pig meat).”
For the cutting of the cake, traditional black cake and local wine would be used. This will be done at the Moriah Community Centre, after the bridal party, of over 30 people, leaves the church.
After the cutting of the cake and toasting of the wine, the procession will continue to the Moriah recreational ground for the reception. After the bridal party leaves the community centre, as part of the production villagers dressed in old time wear will join in the march at several different points. John-Jack said this is customary as in the past, as news of a wedding spreads, villagers would come out to join the march. The reception will also include drama, more dancing and food.