The Osun Osogbo Festival in Osun State, Nigeria is celebrated in a sacred grove, to worship Osun, the Yoruba Goddess of Fertility, it is one of the most famous events in Yorùbá country.
The festival is believed to renew the contract between humans and gods and usually attracts the attention of tons of people from all walks of life. Many are festivals which are not recognized, but the festival in speech is remarkable and it has taken root in the annals of the Yoruba land.
The annual Osun Osogbo festival was celebrated in a unique way this year with the massive participation of devotees, domestic and foreign tourists, visitors, enthusiasts, journalists and residents compared to the attendance in recent years; they do this not simply for their presence, but to receive myriad blessings from the river goddess.
The appeasement of this deity is believed to be a panacea for various diseases or ailments, it gives fruitfulness to barren women, it serves as a protection for the whole city, and it also unifies the people, especially the natives of Osun, to only cite a few.
In his remarks during a special program he hosted at Timehin Middle School, Isale, Osun Osogbo, shortly after the sacrifice at Osun’s grove, the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland and leader of the Oodua People’s Congress OPC Gani Adams, noted that the economic impact of the festival to the people of Osogbo will linger for a long time.
The Osun Osogbo Festival is a world famous annual event and the grove is indeed a World Heritage Site listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.
He stated that the Osun Osogbo festival is the celebration of the Goddess of Osun for her role in establishing the founders of the city of Osogbo and the roles she played during their times of distress.
He added that Osun, the Yoruba goddess of fertility, is believed to be a renewer of contact between humans and deities and is said to have powers of healing, divination, protection and fertility.
It will be remembered that a few years ago, various obstacles plagued the world-renowned festival, including Ebola outbreak, COVID-19, outbreak, #EndSars protest, among others.
But despite the current wave of insecurity ravaging the country and economic hardship, devotees of Osun and others have come out in droves to seek the face of Osun’s deity to survive this year.
Seeing the turnout this year, Adams said his efforts to book hotels for his people until the Wednesday before the grand final have almost hit rock bottom, as almost all hotels in Osogbo, the state capital , were reserved by devotees and tourists.
He posted that the people of Osogbo would definitely want a daily celebration of the Osun Osogbo festival considering the economic gain made by all during the festival.
As usual, the festival started with the traditional cleaning of the land of Osogbo called “iwopopo”. Popo is the name of a street that stretches about 500 meters north of Ataoja Palace, Osogbo.
The Iwopopo held a week before the grand finale saw worshipers and tourists converge at the popular Gbaemu crossroads where His Royal Majesty, the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Olanipekun Laaroye II prayed for peace and the prosperity of his kingdom, state and country. to the big one.
Moreover, its chiefs paid him a royal tribute and the inhabitants also granted the scenario under thunderous applause.
The Gbaemu program lasted for a few hours and the monarch along with his wives called ‘Olori’, his entire family, chiefs, priests, priestesses, adherents, tourists and entertainment enthusiasts danced to traditional music as they moved towards the palace where a true demonstration of tradition dances with dexterity accompanied by the sporadic hum of locally made rifles to the admiration of the people.
Although unlike the old days when except for traditional cleansing, lighting of a special lamp with sixteen pointed flames, sacrifice to the crowns of past monarchs ‘bibo ade oba Osogbo’ and the adoration through the offering of sacrifices at the Osogbo grove during the grand finale, many innovations such as cultural competition by young people, seminars, exhibitions of artifacts among others were introduced as happened this year.
On the third day after the traditional cleaning of the city, there was the traditional lighting of the special 500-year-old sixteen-pointed lamp called “atupa oloju merindinlogun” at night.
Besides the inherent glamor of viewing and observing the ancient lamp, the young people also took advantage of the light provided by the lamp to show their strength while the young girls also showed their beauty.
Other events also took place, among them new innovations and the traditional worship of the crowns of the old rulers of the city where the Ataoja offered prayers for peace and the progress of the community.
On the morning of the grand finale, thousands of people of varying interests made their way to Osun’s grove amid pomp and pageantry, some equipped with barrels to draw water for their desired purposes, hunters with locally made weapons, journalists with cameras and pens, and others as needed.
The symbol of the festival of Osun who is the gourd bearer, ‘Arugba Osun’ who must be a royal maiden who must be a virgin carried the beautiful gourd containing sacrificial objects and danced dexterity strongly guided by priests for the prevent it from falling, which is a taboo and an abomination.
The Osogbo monarch’s entourage includes traditional rulers who came to celebrate with him, his chiefs, priests and priestesses, and dignitaries from around the world danced in the Osun Shrine’s Osun Grove Abode.
Many side attractions that added to the glamor of the festival were performances by drummers, hunters, Osun maidens, cadre of priests and priestesses, among others.
Due to the belief that the appeasement of the deity of Osun is a panacea for various diseases or ailments, the fertility of barren women, the protection of the whole city, the unification of the people, especially the natives of Osun , to name a few, the faithful are putting all their faith in Osun’s ability to solve his problems
During the festival, several prayers were offered by the riverside which were credibly answered. Sacrifices were also made with goat, hot drinks (Schnapps), kola nuts, fruits and others to appease or calm the river.
Ahead of the grand finale held on Friday, August 12, 2022, the government issued a statement urging people to refrain from drinking water drawn from the Osun River because it has been contaminated.
The statement signed by the State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, said mining activities carried out along the river bank have resulted in contamination that is harmful to human health.
But it was evident that most of Osun’s devotees had abandoned the government’s advice and were drinking the polluted water openly, while thousands of barrels of various sizes were filled with water from the shrine.
Speaking at the celebration, the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba, Jimoh Olanipekun and Laaroye ll urged his subjects to live in peace with each other.
He also tasked them with participating in the development of the ancient city, adding that Osun Osogbo has provided a unique opportunity for natives and residents to boost their economy.
Also speaking, the Governor of Osun State, represented by the Secretary of State Government, Prince Wole Oyebanji, congratulated the Ataoja and the entire community of Osogbo on another celebration of the festival of ‘Osun Osogbo.
He stressed the need for Nigerians to protect their heritage and do everything in their power to promote their culture.
The Osun Osogbo Festival 2022 has passed, but the beautiful memory of world famous cultural events lingers on.