UNDERSTANDING ORO RITUAL AND FESTIVAL – WRITTEN BY AWO AMOSUN IFAKOREDE
Whether known to you or not, there are negative spirits or forces among us and this is acknowledged by almost if not all religions of the world. These negative spirits or forces are called “Ajogún or Ebora” in the Yoruba language, they are known as “jinn or genie” in Arabic, Jews call them “shedim” in Hebrews, Indian refers to them as “rakshasa” and English man calls them demons just to mention few. This is how almost every race of the world acknowledged their existences because we all perceive their effects or maladies in our society either directly or indirectly unless we choose to sweep their stories under the carpet.
Hence, if you agree with me that these spirits are in existence among us, and if truly, they are, don’t you think it is necessary to put them to check to avoid their effects that can result into uncontrollable chaos? However, in a bid to have control on this spiritual realm, almost every race of the world developed different forms of exorcism.
WHAT IS EXORCISM?
According to Wikipedia, Exorcism is a religious or spiritual practice of evicting demons and jinn or other spiritual entities from a person or an area, that is believed to be possessed. In general, exorcism is of two stages, the casting out and cleansing. The formal is aimed at expelling the bad spirit while purification of the host is the target of the latter. The exorcism method chosen is dependent on the spiritual beliefs of the exorcist, this may be done by causing the entity to swear an oath, performing an elaborate ritual, simply by commanding it to depart in the name of a higher power, and sometimes the spirit might be destroyed or disintegrated into smaller harmless units. Note that the last possibility is said to be complex and relatively impossible.
SPIRITUAL CLEANSING IN YORUBA SPIRIRUALITY
Coming down to Yoruba spirituality, does this spirituality possess any form of exorcism? Yes, it does. Traditionally in Ifa religion, there are several methods of spiritual cleansing and theses are called Ìràpadà or ipaarọ which are mainly for individual spiritual cleansing, in fact as part of the Ifa initiation process, a special procedural bath is dedicated for this purpose so as to rid you of all unwanted spiritual essence.
However, for the community at large, the ORO ritual is adopted. Oro ritual is an important form of exorcism that is aimed at casting out Ajogún or Ebora (negative spirits or forces) out of the community. It is not done often but only when necessary. It is executed only by experts in this field who had been initiated into the Oro cult. The initiation offers them knowledge and protection that assist them in carrying out this gruesome task and this is the main reason why people are told to stay indoors during this procession as people can become possessed. The kind of symptoms experienced by the bewitched person depends on what the spirit is capable of doing in its host, the consequence might even be as great as death.
In contrary to the above definition given to the Oro ritual, several rumors have been said about the Oro ritual. I have been asked several questions concerning Oro ritual and its festival, some of these questions are answered below in a question-and-answer format. I hope this helps your understanding.
Q1. why is Oro ritual done in the night?
A1. If the primary purpose of the Oro ritual is considered, the most suitable period for it is in the night when everyone is in their houses. The purpose of Oro is to cast out negative spirits or forces and cleansing the community of them. While doing this, thing could go out of hand and they might lose control of the Ajogún they are expelling and this can seek new abode in anyone passing around. Hence it is necessary it is done with fewer people or no person moving around.
Q2. Why does Oro ritual involve only the initiates?
A2. The Oro ritual is different from all other festivals that generally promote cultures and traditions, Oro has a special purpose which must include specialist/experts only. When illness seems complicated, you don’t call a general doctor, you call a specialist in that field to shed light on it. This is why we need only pundit not non-initiates.
Q3. Why do you think Oro ritual excludes both the females and non-members of the Oro cult?
A3. As for the non-participants, I think the answer to question two has taken care of that as specialists are needed for this task. As for females, Yoruba spirituality see women as receptacle, most of the times, they attract and receive. And also, they possess negative energy which always attracts things to themselves just as seen in the conventional movement of electric current. The direction of the current in the external circuit is directed away from the positive terminal and toward the negative terminal of the battery (this is just an example).
So, because women are seen as receptacle or receiver, they are always excluded in the Oro ritual.
Q4. Does Oro ritual involve human sacrifice?
A4. No, the oro ritual does not involve human sacrifice. In all cases of Oro ritual, it is done as a form of exorcism just as explained earlier and this means a particular or group of negative spirits or forces called Ajogún are casted out. During this Oro procession, people are told to stay indoors, this is to restrict movement of people within the possessed community and this is done to prevent the casted spirit from taking a non-participant as a new abode as it believed that the participants are fortified. The effect experienced by this person depends wholly on the type of the spirit. For example, if the Ajogún causes illness, the person might be experiencing this and if it has capacity of causing death, the person might die.
I HOPE THIS HELPS YOUR UNDERSTANDING
Note: There is no perfect picture to depict the Oro ritual as it is sacred.
Written by Awo Ifakorede Amosun
CHIEF PRIEST AJISEFA TEMPLE
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