Dated back at about 1983 when the last of its kind was had. It was a festival notably celebrated amongst the people of the eastern part of Nigeria (The Igbo’s). It is also known traditionally as “Agugu Agbogho”. This festival is celebrated once in thirty (30) years in various towns with neighbouring clans and villages in attendance if or even if not invited. The occasion is chaired by the heads of different town/clans in attendance and takes place at the market square of the host community.
UNIQUENESS OF THE FESTIVAL.
The festival is believed to be a mode of communication between the living and the dead as their is a lot of exhibition and deity worships at the events. There is also an exhibition of ripe virgins to show forth the level of purity existing amongst the female sex of the community as their lies consequences when a non-virgin portrays herself as one. There is also enhancement of inter-relationship amongst the people of different communities. Inter/intra marriage affairs also sets in. Their is establishment of mutual friendship and union ism between people of different towns and communities. Also another uniqueness of this event is the fixing of the scheduled date. It is done by the eldest in the community and it is a belief that he will never live to witness it. Although their wasn’t any further belief of what happens because record has it that no elder ever lived to witness the one being forecasted by him. Also once a community has fixed a day,no other community fixes on same day and they have a way of getting the information across using the village town crier. The event is usually forecasted to fall into the very popular market day of such a community, for example the popular “Eke” market in Osunmenyi,a village in Nnewi South local government area of Anambra state in Nigeria.
EVENTS BEFORE, DURING and AFTER THE FESTIVAL.
The festival brings together the rich and the poor of the communities although there is bound to be segregation amongst human. The preparation for the festival is announced as “eke…na ahor……” According to the elder meaning “after so so so market days,in so so so years to come” on approaching the scheduled 30 years interval. Preparation sets in on hearing the proposed date.
Each family gets preparing the virgin or virgins they have against the festival. The animals to be slaughtered (cow,goat,chicken etc) are fattened months before the festival and which is to be slaughtered that day at the front of the family’ shrine/”arusi” as it is popularly called in Igbo land. The blood is sprinkled in front of the moulded deity as it is believe to be the best sacrifice a contrite heart will give to the gods. The moulded god is surrounded/decorated with young palm fronds commonly called “OMU” following preparation to the festival. The family then invites friends and relatives from neighbouring towns and community days before the scheduled time. During these days of celebration,there is no farming,hunting or fishing,so each family gathers as much as possible to feed themselves and the visitors they are inviting. At the onset of the festival, their is a lot of chanting and festivity as the virgins are thoroughly washed,decorated and dressed in attractive beads worn on their waist. Their is body beautification and dedication using “Nzu” a popular instrument used by the ancient herbalists and a means of communication and also some experts in drawing different body local and temporal tattoos are consulted. These tattoos are drawn on different part of their body and they mark the family or generation they emanate from. This in igbo land is called “Ihio”. As the virgins are approaching,they appraisal are being sung by family and friends following from behind. Later on,they engage in maiden parade to show case the stuffs they are made of.
The uniqueness of this day is that their is bound to be a major courtship genesis amongst people of opposite sex. There is also exhibition of artefacts and pronouncement of what the people call “okwuchukwu” meaning the voice of the gods by the chief priest of the oracle shrine. On this day,there are some conducts that the villagers are not supposed to be found indulging in.
Stuffs like hunting,fishing,farming and usually their hasn’t been any record of rainfall on such days. It is believed that the day is to be kept sacred and that anything gotten from nature is for the gods and is an abomination punishable under the laws for any villager to indulge in such conducts.
On the side of the village head,this is a day he is blessed bountiful ly as their is inflow of gifts from his kinsmen and villagers. Each families are not left out as it is their believe that any prayer they say offering their gifts will be accepted by their “Chi” meaning God.