Little wonder would you know how people come from all over the world to grace the Osun Osogbo festival. Over the years, it’s been more than just sacrifices performed to celebrate the Osun River, it has succeeded in becoming an international celebration of cultural events attracting people from all over the world to Osogbo.

You might want to check out these fascinating things when next you’re attending the festival if you have never before. Here are five interesting things to know about the Osun Osogbo festival

The Early Beginning

The festival came to be as a result of what transpired between the goddess of Osun and a group of travellers. It was said that a group of migrants led by the great hunter, Olutimehin, settled on the bank of the Osun river to save themselves from famine. They had fled because of hunger in their home country. History has it that ‘Yeye’ Osun appeared to Olutimehin and requested him to lead the people up asunder where was to be their promised land and there it was, the present-day Osun Osogbo. The Osun goddess promised them safety and prosperity in turn for an annual sacrifice to her. They obliged her proposition. Hence the Osun Osogbo festival which comes annually every August and whose rites last for two weeks.

The Arugba

The Arugba is the key feature of the Osun Osogbo festival. A young virgin who is to remain so till her tenure is exhausted. She is painted with white dots all over her body. She is then made to carry the calabash which contains the materials for sacrifice to appease and worship the river goddess. The Arugba is seen as a goddess herself and people make their prayers to her and cast all their problems on her as she bears the calabash and leads the people onto the river.

The Sacred Grove

Regarded as the abode of the goddess of fertility, Osun, one of the pantheons of Yoruba gods, the landscape of the grove and its meandering river is dotted with sanctuaries and shrines, sculptures and artworks in honour of Osun and other deities. The sacred grove, which is now seen as a symbol of identity for all Yoruba people, is probably the last in Yoruba culture. Set within the forest sanctuary are forty shrines, sculptures and artworks erected in honour of Osun and other Yoruba deities. Many were created in the past forty years. Two palaces, five sacred places and nine worship points are strung along the river banks with designated priests and priestesses.

Atupa Ina Olujumerindinlogun

Imagine a lamp having 16 eyes and having existed for 600 years. How funny! That itself has become a deity. The Ina Olujumerindinlogun Ritual involves the lighting of a 16 point lamp which is believed to have existed for 600 years after the “iwopopo” ritual is performed. Lighting the 16 point lamp is an important aspect of the Osun Osogbo festival. A carnival night featuring dances and music from various dance groups within Osogbo land, whereupon the lamp is lit. The king dances round the lamp twice and on the third round, accompanied by his chiefs, they take the dance rite around the city and before they return, the lamps were put off and replaced to where they were kept until the following year.

Two things must not happen when lighting or putting off the lights: one the lights must not go out before the king dances around it twice. Secondly, they must have been put off before the king returned from touring the city with his palace chiefs. A palace chief is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring these are done right. 

To the Osogbo people, the lighting of the lamp reminds them of their ties to the Osogbo deity. It is a time to renew and strengthen the ancestral bonds.

Susanne Wenger

The story wouldn’t be complete without this hero; Susanne Wenger, an Austrian who devoted her life since the 1950s to restoring the glory of the shrines. She renovated and sculpted the gods representing 75 gods in cultural artefacts. Wenger stopped people from felling trees or hunting or fishing and personally rebuilt the customary shrines and groves again till her death. Wenger later came to be titled Adunni Olorisha for her custodial efforts and her consistent devotion to the gods of the grove.

It is taboo to fall trees, fish or hunt near the groove. Susanne will always be remembered for her effort in preserving the groove.

Aside from the sacrifices to the goddess Osun, it is also a celebration of cultural events. Many business organizations and companies now take part in the celebration. Osun Osogbo remains a dynamic religion today and preserves the cultural heritage of the Yorubas. It also creates a communal relationship among the people of the world. What a festival!

Oluwatimileyin Emmanuel

If you like this article, please share with others
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments