Such is the uniqueness of the Oshogbo people that their traditions, beliefs, and culture have survived through time.
There's this sense of beauty that comes to the mind of an onlooker whenever a people display their cultural heritage with pride.
This beauty is usually experienced during traditional activities, especially festivals. And notable among the numerous festivals held across the country, is the Osun Oshogbo Festival.
Oral tradition has it that the early history of the Oshogbo people is founded on mythical and spiritual beliefs as credit is forever given to Osun, river goddess, as the founding mother of Oshogbo town.
Thus, the Osun Oshogbo festival, which has been celebrated for over six centuries, was built around the relationship between the river goddess, Osun and this first Monarch of Oshogbo kingdom- Oba Gbadewolu Laroye.
It is this bond which was established six centuries ago that fosters the Oshogbo people to gather annually and celebrate what is being observed as their Founder’s Day.
The festival, which is celebrated annually, is held in August, in a grand and colourful style at the "Osun" sacred groves in Oshogbo.
And over time, the festival has succeeded in attracting tens of thousands of believers and tourists from within and outside the country.
Until her demise in 2009, Susan Wenger, a German-born, was the custodian and priestess of this grove. She was popularly called “Aduni Olorisa” or “Iya Osun” by the believers of Osun's truth.
During the festival, the Osun devotees dress in charming white cloths: Strong is the belief they have in the River goddess to be a bringer of divine favour, as well as having a healing and fertility powers.
It is, however, important to state here that owing to the international status of the Osun Oshogbo festival, it has become a major tourist attraction.
And over the years, it has been observed that the festive period is about the best time to see the city as people parade the streets in the spirit of beauty and celebration.
Undoubtedly, both the people of Oshogbo and interested tourists look forward to the festival with great expectation. And during the period of the event, procession, dance, art exhibition, and colourful carnivals are major attractions of the festival.
The festival which is a two weeks event starts with the traditional cleansing of the town known as “Iwopopo,” followed by the lighting of 500 years old sixteen points’ lamp three days later, called “Olojomerindinlogun.”
This is followed by “Ibroriade,” which is the assemblage of the crowns of the past ruler (Ataojas) for blessings and it's being led by the Ataoja who is the ruler and votary maid (Arugba) propelled by Yeye Osun, and a committee of priestesses.
There is also the “Arugba” ritual which is can be said to be one of the major highlights of the festival: Here a calabash containing the sacrifice materials that would be used to appease and worship the goddess is carried across town by a votary virgin, on her head.
As she leads the procession to the river, the people, seeing her as a representative of the goddess, cast their problems on her and say prayers.
Admittedly, the Osun Oshogbo Festival has not only given residents and tourists the opportunity to recreate socially and culturally, as they re-enact one of their renowned age-long spiritual and communal feast, it has also proven to be one of the most unique and outstanding festivals in the world.
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