Arts and Culture

Nigerian Traditional Festival: Oro Festival of Yoruba People

One of the most sacred of festivals celebrated among the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria is the Oro Festival. Although the ceremonies surrounding the celebration of this festival differs from town to town, yet it is of an event peculiar to the people.

What is Oro Festival?

Oro Festival is an event celebrated by towns and settlements of Yoruba origin.

It is an annual traditional festival that is of patriarchal nature, as it is only celebrated by male descendants who are paternal natives to the specific locations where the particular event is taking place.

The festival may take up to a week or more depending on the town/community.

Things to Know About Oro Festival

  •  Oro festival worships the Yoruba deity of bullroarers and justice.
  • According to myth, Oro is a god living on a very high plane, unreachable by humans. It is known as a male god while the wife is referred to as ‘Majowu’ who is said to carry the message sent by Oro.
  • As it is known as a male god, it is therefore forbidden for women and a man can only take part in the occultic process if he belongs to the family and must have been initiated. This takes place after puberty as it marks the passage from childhood to adulthood. Before initiation, a member is referred to as ‘Ogberi’ (inferior man with the status of a woman).
  •  During the festival, females and non-natives must stay indoors as oral history has it that Oro must not be seen by women and non-participating people which may attracts death penalty.
  • According to some traditionalists, women or non-participants who sees the worshippers while the Oro is ongoing will have a natural death without anyone touching them and their bodies will not be found due to it’s magical powers.
  • It is often called after the death of a Yoruba monarch.
Oro Traditional Worshippers
Oro Traditional worshippers

Functions of Oro Festival

The festival is an important part of the Yoruba people’s culture and tradition and has played a big role in their communities.

  • It is regarded as one of the things that bring the people together as it gathers the members of the community and give them a sense of purpose.
  • It is used to ward off evil in the community as followers act as vigilante whenever the festival is taking place.
  • The people involved also entertain as they sing occultic songs during the festival.
  • Oro festival also helps to ensure peace as the ‘Ifa’ oracle is being consulted and sacrifices are made to cleanse the community.

Although the festival has been seen as a pagan practice, ward off investors and also question the accommodating nature of the Yoruba people by some quarters, yet it is an important of the people’s rich culture and tradition.

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