The month of August, for the indigenes of Osogbo, is of celebration, cultural rebirth and ancestral reunion, and for culture lovers like MTN, Osogbo in the heart of Osun State is the place to be for the next two weeks.
Every August, Thousands of Osun devotees, domestic and foreign tourists gather at the 2005 UNESCO World Heritage Site, Osogbo Grove to celebrate the famous festival.
Never heard of the festival?
However, the festival kicks off today, Thursday and here are six things you didn’t know about the historic festival of over 700year old celebration:
The Festival is based on the historic tale of the river goddess, Osun
It is said that when a group of wayfarers led by Olutimehin, a great huntsman, settled at the bank of the river to get away from the dearth in their village, they came across the water goddess, Osun. She guaranteed them of her protection and promised to bless their women with fertility if they would offer a sacrifice to her annually. This yearly sacrifice amongst other ceremonies is now being celebrated as the famous Osun Osogbo Festival. The goddess has been portrayed by the popular American superstar, Beyonce.
The Festival is popularly known for its rituals
The festival is known for its 4 rituals. The Iwopopo Ritual, The Ina Olujumerindinlogun Ritual, The Iboriade Ritual and The Arugba Ritual. They are done to cleanse the city from evil and are blessed by the Ataoja of Osogbo, the Arugba, the Yeye Osun, and a committee of priestesses.
The Arugba Ritual is quite special.
The Arugba Ritual usually attracts thousands of spectators as it involves a chosen virgin carrying on her head, a calabash containing a sacrifice that would be used to appease and worship the goddess. The virgin will lead people to the river as they hurl their problems on her with prayers for better things ahead.
The Festival is of international value.
The festival’s location, the Osogbo Grove was in 2005, heralded the title “UNESCO World Heritage Site”. It attracts thousands of foreigners each year as it has become a global event with people attending from Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Spain, Canada, and the United States.
Why Susanne Wenger, an Austrian was named an Osun Priestess.
A number of people attribute the success of the festival to Susanne Wenger an Austrian born artist. She and her husband moved to Nigeria in the early 1950s to work at the University of Ibadan before the moved to Osun state.
Susanne was intrigued by the Yoruba culture as she dedicated her life to it, especially the traditional religion. She later became a priestess and was titled Iwinfunmi Adunni Olorisha which means ‘the loved one who or serves the deity.’ She soon became the guardian of Osogbo Grove helping to revive a number of ridden shrines, the forest around the grove and the festival. She later died in 2009.
MTN Nigeria’s Decade-long Support.
To positively impact on the country’s socio-cultural landscape, MTN has supported the Osun Osogbo festival, amongst other festivals, for over 10 years. The ICT company has facilitated the renaissance of arts and culture in Nigeria and through its Kulturefest initiative, put various cultural festivals in the country on the international pedestal galvanising their potentials to generate revenue for the communities and engendering community bonding.