Ogun festival is a popular festival observed by the Yoruba people of Ondo state. It is an annual festival in honour of Ogun, a warrior and powerful spirit of metal work believed by the Yoruba to be the first god to arrive on earth. The festival is done to commemorate the life time of the warrior.
According to Yoruba mythology, Ogun was a king and the father of Oranmiyan. He was believed by the Yoruba to be the first person to arrive earth; he uses a cutlass and a dog to clear the road for the arrival of other deities. Ogun is said to have given the finishing touches to the first set of human created by Obatala, the god of creation. This festival is usually held around August or September in Ondo State (especially Ondo Town) and parts of Ekiti State.
BEFORE THE FESTIVAL
Preparation for the festival begins 17 days in advance. The chief priest announces the sighting of the new moon (which must be sighted before beginning the festival) by blowing a local trumpet called ‘’ude’’ for seven days. Nine days after the moon has been seen, the king sends an emissary to officially announce the ceremony. The people prepare for the festival by repairing bridges and clearing of footpaths. Preparation for the festival continues with a vigil called Ilagun/Asoro/Aisun Ogun which takes place three days before the Ogun day. Cutlasses, hoes, and bell gongs are donated, and the shrine is beautified with palm fronds, cowries and other items. Libation is then poured, a ritual dance is conducted around the shrine, and prayers are offered. Dog, which is an important part of this festival, is used as sacrifice.
THE MAIN FESTIVAL
The festival heats up during the last three days. Dog is been slaughtered on the first of the three days. It is killed in a slow and painful way but sometimes the High priest kills the dog by striking it with a machete before it actually dies. The dog’s blood is mixed with salt, kola nut, palm wine, and palm oil. The mixture is then poured over all the metal working tools of the worshippers which are gathered in a bowl. It is the people’s belief that they are being protected from trouble and it also bring about abundant profits. Ogun is believed to be the patron of those who make use of metals in their everyday work such as blacksmith, drivers, mechanics and surgeons. The festival can also be held anywhere without the usual 17 days order.
During this festival, drivers are seen with powder and blue-dye poured on their head and faces to celebrate the god of iron. In some places, dogs on sight are been killed by the worshippers. There is always a great joy during these three days festival as sons and daughters of the land wine and dine.