Popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land have been a link by which many Yoruba people have strengthened their bond of unity as a people.
Yoruba culture consists of cultural philosophy, religion and folktales. They are embodied in Ifa divination and are known as the tripartite Book of Enlightenment in Yorubaland and its diaspora. Yoruba cultural thought is a witness of two epochs. The first epoch is a history of cosmogony and cosmology.
This article contains a list of seven popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land.
1. Eyo Festival
The Eyo festival is the most spectacular cultural fiesta held in Southwest Nigeria. Originating in 19th century Lagos in a fishing village on the lagoon end of the now Glover Road, Ikoyi, it is a festival that is known for its pomp, pageantry, dancing masquerades, and gaiety.
The Eyo Festival, otherwise known as the Adamu Orisha Play, is a Yoruba festival unique to Lagos, Nigeria. In modern times, it is presented by the people of Lagos as a tourist event and due to its history, is traditionally performed in Lagos.
Eyos (the masquerades) celebrate an Oba´s (king) life. Eyo Festival is a homage to his death. The ritual is also organized to commemorate the election of a new leader. Traditionally, it only occurs at these times. This is one of the popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land.
The festival is set to hold from November 7 to 13. In a guided tour around some of the earmarked facilities for one of the nation’s biggest cultural events, the organisers have promised to deliver the best-ever hosting that befits the status of Lagos state as the cultural capital of Nigeria.
2. Osun-Oshogbo Festival
The festival of Osun-Osgobo is one of the popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land, which takes place every year in Osogbo, Nigeria, and celebrates the goddess of fertility, Osun. The festival renews the contract between humans and the divine: Osun offers grace to the community; in return, it vows to honour her Sacred Grove.
The festival is usually attended by tourists from all over the world, as well as Osun devotees. During the festival, tourists, visitors, and devotees drink from the Osun River for its perceived divination, while some take the water home to bathe with.
The Osun festival, also known as the Osun-Osogbo Festival is held towards the rainy season, usually during the last week of August. It is a traditional tribal festival from the Yoruba people, held to honour the river goddess Oshun.
3. Ojude Oba Festival
Ojude Oba festival is an ancient festival celebrated by the Yoruba people of Ijebu-Ode, a town in Ogun State, Southwestern Nigeria. This annual festival usually takes place the third day after Eid al-Kabir (Ileya), to pay homage and show respect to the Royal Majesty, the Awujale of Ijebuland.
Ojude Oba which means king’s fore-court in the Yoruba language is usually celebrated with Pomp and pageantry by about 1,000,000 people from different parts of the world and Nigeria, especially those from Yoruba origin and most especially by people of Ijebu descent all over the world.
Beyond the razzmatazz, the festival was an avenue for both Ijebu indigenes at home and in the diaspora to celebrate their cultural heritage.
This is one of the popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land.
4. Sango Festival
Sango Festival is an annual festival held among the Yoruba people in honour of Sango, a thunder and fire deity who was a warrior and the third king of the Oyo Empire after succeeding Ajaka his elder brother. It ranks among the popular festivals celebrated in Yoruba land.
The Sango Festival is a 10 days event, which is marked with pomp and pageantry. Worshippers and visitors can be seen in a happy mood. The worshippers are usually adorned with white or red attire.
Renamed in 2013 to World Sango Festival by the government of Oyo State, the festival is usually held in August at the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo and is also observed in over forty countries around the world.
5. Egungun Festival
Egungun, (egúngún with Yorùbá language tone marks) in the broadest sense is any Yoruba masquerade or masked, costumed figure. This is one of the popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land.
More specifically, it is a Yoruba masquerade for ancestor reverence or the ancestors themselves as a collective force.
The appearance of Egungun in a community is invariably accompanied by pomp and pageantry, drumming and dancing, singing and celebration. The ensuing festival goes on for several days and strengthens the bonds that unite families and communities with departed ancestors.
An egungun festival is held once a year to honour those who have died in the clan; however, these festivals can be held more often, and for entertainment purposes as well. Masqueraders wear masks carved of wood or other media, or leather caps decorated with cloth or mesh netting to obscure their faces.
6. Igogo Festival
The Igogo festival is a Yoruba festival held in Owo, Nigeria. It is one of the popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land.
It is held annually in September to honour Queen Oronsen, a mythical wife of Rerengejen.
This festival lasts for 17 days and begins with Upeli proceedings by the Iloro chiefs. The chiefs are led by “Akowa” known as “Akowa of Iloro”.
The Igogo festival of Owo kingdom could be rightly referred to as the people’s traditional Valentine’s Day, as both celebrations entail the showing of love and exchanging of gifts.
During the festival, the Olowo are plunged into a state of mourning and beating of drums is a taboo; instead of drums, metal gongs (agogo or Igogo in Owo dialect) are used in the place of drums, hence, the festival came to be known as, “Igogo Festival.”
7. Olojo festival
The Yoruba word ‘Olojo’ means ‘The Day Of The First Dawn’ which describes the grateful heart of man towards God’s creation and the existence of humans.
The Olojo Festival is a cultural festival in the calendar of the Ile-Ife, Osun State which is located in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. It is the celebration of the remembrance of “Ogun”, god of Iron, who is believed to be the first son of Oduduwa, progenitor of the Yoruba people. The festival is held annually in October. It is one of the biggest festivals on the cultural calendar of lle-Ife.
It is believed to be a worldwide festival celebrating the black race and mainly unites the Yoruba people. This is one of the popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land.
Yoruba land celebrates a lot of festivals every year to increase their bond with their ancestors and fellows. However, listed above are the list of the seven popular traditional festivals celebrated in Yoruba land. You may wish to explore the popular traditional dances in Nigeria.
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