OLOJO FESTIVAL: THE CELEBRATION OF GOD ALMIGHTY, ELEDUMARE
Olojo Festival is the celebration of God Almighty, Eledumare. It is the way of Yoruba culture, Tradition and noble heritage. The festival is as old as Ile-Ife, the source of Yoruba race.
The spiritual head of all Yoruba race, Ooni of Ife would go into 7 days seclusion after which he would adorn “Aare Crown” one of the oldest crown in the world after which he would bless the Yoruba race.
The annual program of events for the Olojo Festival is calling on all Oduduwa sons and daughters to visit the historical city of their forefather as an avenue to promote and showcase their cultural strength and heritage to the world. The festival attracts over 1m attendees from all over the world, especially Brazil.
An Ooni would adorn the Aare crown on Olojo festival.
This is the ancient, sacred crown inherited by the king and it is the only physical symbol of authority the Ooni of Ife.
The crown is believed to be the original crown used by Oduduwa during his reign in the classical era of Yoruba history.
Myth has it that the holy Aare crown is made of over 149 undisclosed objects such as cutlasses and hoes and weighs, conservatively 100 kilogrammes.
This crown holds great significance in the Olojo celebration, as the Ooni of Ife is the only person spiritually enabled to wear it during the cultural feast.
Historically, it is believed there is a deep tie between the sacred crown and the Ogun deity (the god of iron) due to the crown’s components and it must be brought before the Ogun deity at Oke-Mogun shrine in Ile-Ife on each Olojo festival season.
This year’s, Ojo Aare was a thoroughly entertaining day with over fifty families performing before the king, praying for the king who in turn gifted the families with cash.
On this day, the Ooni (king of Ife) appears after several days of seclusion and denial communing with the ancestors and praying for his people.
At the beginning of the festival, which also signified the entry of the Ooni into seclusion in Iledi House in Iremo Quarters to perform traditional rites, for seven days during which he communed with the ancestors and prayed for peace, unity and development of the town. During the seven days seclusion, the Ooni would not be receiving visitors nor step outside.
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.
In the Olojo mysticism, it is said that the night the king first appears to the people, whatever he says will come to pass as he will be highly spiritually possessed by the Irumole and the gods. Various groups from across the world waited with bated breath as they expected the exit of the king.
The King’s exit was a spectacle to behold as the monarch – supposedly possessed by the spirits, stepped out gracefully and looking every inch like a secluded man.
The Ooni later 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.
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”. Prayers are offered for peace and tranquility in Yoruba and Nigeria. All age groups participate. Its significance is the unification of the Yorubas.
Tradition holds that Ile-Ife is the cradle of the Yorubas, the city of survivors, spiritual seat of the Yorubas, and land of the ancients.
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