Onitsha Ceremonial Circle
ceremonial life invloves a series of festivals with each festival forming
part of a continuu that helps to symbolically relate each aspect of
socila life to wider reality.
are celebrated in one Onitsha year. The basic sacred divisions of these
are set by the phase of the moon.
proclaims each of the twenty eight day Lunar months "Onwa"
and defines the ceremonial sequence in terms of the seven four-day weeks
"OGE ISA" that comprise each month.
Six Festivals are as follows:
This is usually celebrated in January, and is essentially a homage to
the "Yam spirit" with a view to establishing the presence
of this guardian spirit of yams in each strip of farmland to be cleared
and cultivated. It features the preparation of Coca yam eaten with bitter
Normally celebrated in June. It is a sacrifice to the Almighty , and
invilves beseeching God to guide every adult in his labor and help his
This is the first harvest celebrated in June after the time of the maize
harvest. Umato is a sixteen day festival beginning with the exclusive
celebration by the Obi for a period of four days, after which the celebration
of the populace begins. Umato entails a redistribution of new consumable
wealth by the nobility to lesser mortals .
This new yam festival is normally celebrated in september and commences
twenty-four days after the Umato. It last for twenty-four days. The
Obi performs the ritual of eating the new yam after the various sections
(villages) of Onitsha have performed the ritual.
this period, The Obi retires into a trance-like state for four days.
This is known as INYEPU UKWU NA NLO EZE.
This is the Obi's annual emergence from seclusion, having assessed his
relationship with God, ghost, spirit. Thereafter, his body is washed
to signify the end of his mourning. This is usually celebrated in October.
This comes nine days after the Ofala. This is the ceremony of cooking
in the pot and signifies the end of the harvest cycle.
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