Osun has a fairly large population. According to the 2006 National Population Census, the population of the state is put at 3,423,535. The state is rich in human and material resources.
Historical evidence shows that the Yoruba tradition is one of the earliest and dominant traditions in Nigeria. The people of Osun are predominantly Yoruba. The state is composed of Osun, Ifes, Ijesas and Igbominas. Their language is Yoruba but there are variations in intonation and accent in across the towns and cities. Osun is culturally rich and this can be seen in all spheres of life such as arts, literature, music and other social activities in the state. Here is a look at some of the cultural festivals in the state.
Egungun refers to the return of the ancestors in masquerade form and is celebrated by the Yoruba people. In Iragbiji, a town near Osogbo, the Egungun festival is celebrated as the period of interaction between the living and the dead. Many colourful masquerades parade the streets and offer prayers for the living.
The festival takes place in May every year and lasts for seven days. On the final day of the festival, all of the masquerades meet at the Oja-oba (king's market) to entertain the people. The Aragbiji (owner) of Iragbiji and his chiefs arrive at Oja-oba from 5.00pm to receive them and perform the traditional blessing.
Osun Oshogbo Festival:
Osun Oshogbo festival has a two week programme of events starting with the traditional cleansing of the town called "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 its being led by the Ataoja who is the ruler and votary maid (Arugba) propelled by Yeye Osun, and a committee of priestesses. The Arugba bore the people age-long prayers to the grove in a calabash of effigy which can only be carried by a virgin, which signifies purity.
This festival, with its international status, has become a major tourist attraction. Observations over the years have shown that the festive period is about the best time to see the city as people parade the streets in their colours. The people look forward to it with great expectation and for the period that it lasts, procession, dance, art exhibition, and colourful carnivals are major attractions of the Osun Oshogbo cultural festival.
The event over the years, has given residents and tourists the opportunity to recreate socially, culturally, as they re-enact one of their renowned age-long spiritual and communal feast. Indeed the Osun Oshogbo has been and is one of the most outstanding and preserved cultural practices of the various festivals in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
Olojo Festival: This is the biggest festival on the culture calendar of Ile-Ife. The Olojo (controller of time-Death) festival is celebrated in remembrance of Ogun, the god of iron who is believed to be the first son of Oduduwa as well as the creation of the world according to Yoruba mythology. The festival takes place annually in October and involves several elaborate ritual prayers led by the Ooni. It is marked by a carnival-like atmosphere and is attended by people of all ages. Olojo has remained popular in Ile-Ife because it is the only day in the year believed to be specially blessed by Olodumare (the Creator of the Universe).
Iwude Festival: Iwude Festival is the mother of all festivals in Ijesha land. It is so because it is the that brings all Ijesa people together. This month – long festival which starts in the palace of Owa Obokun of Ijesha land in Ilesa, extends to other parts of Ijesha land such as Ipole, Ibokun and Ijebu-jesa, before ending where it starts in Ilesa, before. It is therefore a festival that involves not only Ilesa, but also other parts of Ijesa North and Ijesa South, as they are now called today.
Iwude Festival is in essence therefore, a festival of unity. Iwude Festival is a festival in which a well – deserved honour is given to Kabiyesi, Owa Obaokun. It is a festival of rich culture.
The cultural displays also feature the festival greetings of the chiefs – with junior chiefs using their swords to beat the ground in front of the senior chiefs, people and using such swords to beat those of the senior chiefs.
*culled from www.nigeriabulletin.com