One of the numerous festivals that take place in Yoruba land is the ‘Olojo Festival’. It is celebrated mainly in Ile-Ife, the ancestral home of Yoruba people worldwide.
The Yoruba people are located in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. The people hold their rich culture and traditions in high esteem among which the ‘Olojo Festival’ is seen as an event to showcase the people’s lifestyle.
What is Olojo Festival?
The Olojo Festival is a culture festival in the calendar of the Ile-Ife, Osun State which is located in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. It is the celebration of the remembrance of “Ogun”, god of Iron, who is believed to be the first son of Oduduwa progenitor of the Yoruba people.
Olojo has remained popular in Ile-Ife because of its myth and history. It connotes the day in the year specially blessed by Olodumare (the creator of the Universe). Olojo can also be literally translated as the “Owner for the day”.
Although Ogun is also celebrated during the ‘Ogun Festival‘ in different parts of Yoruba land, the Olojo Festival holds in its ancestral home of Ile-Ife with the Ooni of Ife playing a prominent role in the rituals.
Rites Before Olojo Festival
Traditions have it that the Ooni, which is regarded as the traditional ruler of the Yoruba people goes into seclusion for several days before the beginning of the festival.
Ooni of Ife (King of Ife) is also involved in denial communing with the ancestors and praying for his people. This is to make him pure and ensure the efficacy of his prayers.
Before the Ooni emerges, women from his maternal and paternal families sweep the Palace, symbolically ridding the Palace of evil.
Celebrating Olojo Festival
In the festival proper, Ooni appears in public with the Are crown (King’s Crown), which is believed to be the original crown used by Oduduwa to lead a procession of traditional Chiefs and Priests to perform at the Shrine of Ogun.
The next stage of the ceremony is to lead the crowd to Okemogun’s shrine. Here he performs duties including the renewal of oath, divination for the Ooni at the foot of Oketage hill by Araba (Chief Priest), as well as visiting places of historical importance.
At the shrine, the traditional Chiefs with the swords of office marked with chalk and cam wood, appear in ceremonial attire and dance to rhythms from ‘Bembe‘ a traditional drum.
The style of grum and singing for each Chief is different. Only the Ooni can dance to the drum called Osirigi. ”Ogbo” the sword of Odùduwà the progenitor used for defence and a show of strength is also featured during the festival.
Function of Olojo Festival
Prayers are offered during the festival which helps to ensure peace and tranquility in Yoruba land. Participants and Ogun worshippers are also seen in their white attires which is a symbol of peace.
People of all age groups participates in the festival. It’s significance is the unification of the Yoruba people.
The festival also features cultural performances from traditional dancers as well as singers.
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