The Osun-Osogbo festival usually holds towards the end of the rainy season (usually the end of August) each year in honour of the goddess Osun.
Learn about the procession to the Osun sacred grove during the Osun-Osogbo festival
The Osun-Osogbo festival is proof that traditional religious beliefs are still a part of Nigeria's religion despite the influence of foreign religions.
The goddess Osun is believed to bring fruitfulness and fertility and the festival in her honour is so popular, foreigners travel to watch and experience it.
This festival is about 700 years old and began when a group of people led by Olutimehin who were migrating to save themselves from famine, settled at the banks of the Osun River.
There the goddess Osun appeared to them and told them that she would guide them to a good place to stay.
This place is known as Osogbo. She also promised to protect them if they offer annual sacrifices to her.
The festival begins with a cleansing of the town, which is followed by the lighting of a 500 years old lamp for three days. The lamp is called 'Ina Olojumerindinlogun'.
The next stage of the festival is the procession to the sacred grove of Osun, the Arugba is very important for this.
The Arugba is a young adolescent virgin girl chosen from the family of the king. A month before the festival, she stays hidden from the public and prepares to lead the procession.
For the procession, that past and current Ataojas of Osun, the Arugba, Yeye Osun and the committee of Osun priestesses lead the people to the sacred grove.
The festival includes singing, elaborate costumes, reciting poetry and praise songs to the goddess, drumming and dancing.
The procession to the Osun sacred grove is led by the Arugba. This walk takes about 2 hours and has onlookers peering from the road and their houses.
The Arugba walks veiled by a canopy carrying sacrifices to be offered to the goddess. The sacred grove of Osun is one of UNESCO cultural heritage sights, it is cave-like and covered with trees, it is so sacred that no one can bathe it in.
It can only be used for ablution. At the sacred grove, sacrifices are offered to Osun, prayers are made and many fall under different trances.
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