Losing my cultural festival virginity

This was my first time, but I would never stop doing it.

It’s a 4 hours’ drive from Lagos to Osun. I can’t say it was a long journey at all because a crowd from Cuba, Portugal, America, and the West-Indies were also trooping in for the Osun-Oshogbo annual festival at the Grove.

In Nigeria, especially the southwestern part, most large communities by tradition had a sacred grove which was believed to be a major source of its spiritual growth and development but unfortunately, due to urbanization most of these groves are now been encroached and abandoned.

The Osun-Oshogbo Grove which was discovered by an elephant hunter Olutimehin during one of his hunting expeditions is lucky enough to have been saved by the help of an Austrian, Susanne Wenger. History has it that Susanne Wenger came into the scene when shrines and groves were being desecrated, artworks looted or destroyed by the religious fundamentalist. Her intervention made people believe that she was sent by Orisa (deity) to save the grove. After due consultations with the Orisa as usually done in Yoruba tradition, She formed the New Sacred Arts at the grove and made giant sculptures and architectural designs made as heavy as possible from Mud, Iron, and cement inspired by Yoruba mythology instead of the regular wooden sculptures that could have easily been stolen.  Today, the Grove covers an area of 75 hectares supporting a diversity of flora and fauna.

The Osun River takes it course from the neighboring Ekiti state, flowing through Ijesha land and empties itself into the Atlantic Ocean. It is believed that the sacred water of Osun can make barren women pregnant, heal various diseases, cast out evil spirits and make one successful. Myths have it that the fish in Osun River was said to have been used by Osun as a messenger of peace, blessings, and favor dating back to an agreement between her and the founders of Oshogbo.

The Yoruba people believe in one Supreme Being called Olodumare and about 200 deities called Orisa. For instance, Sango is the Orisa of thunder, Yemoja the Orisa of the sea and fish. Osun is the Orisa of fertility. Myth has it that, Osun had a disagreement with Oba who was a co-wife of Sango, and due to this misunderstanding, she turned into the Osun River.

The night before I got disvirgined was a sleepless one.

It was my first time; my first time coming to Osun state or “state of Osun” as they like to call it.

It was my first time; my first time coming for a festival; my spirit, soul, and body was eager – I was so turned on.

The anticipation to get that first experience – I heard there was a possibility of me misplacing in the crowd – LOL.

I heard people came from other continents – I was eager to see “Oyinbo” people in traditional attires speaking the Yoruba language.

I heard of the beautiful virgin that carries the rituals to the river – I was eager to lose my virginity to see her.

I was told she carries a beautifully covered calabash- I was determined to see it and even selfie it – LOL

I was told She is called “Arugba” – she is not only seen as a virgin maid any longer, she is regarded a goddess herself and people make prayers and cast all their problems on her as she bears the calabash and passes on to lead the people to the river.

I was in Osun to feel it myself. I was tired of saying “I heard…I was told that…is it true that…”

The Osun Osogbo festival happens every August and lasts for 12 days starting with the traditional cleansing of the town from evil called “Iwopopo” followed by the lighting of a sixteen points lamp believed to be over 600 years old called “Olojomerindinlogun.” three days later. Following this is “Ibroriade,” which is the assemblage of the crowns of the past ruler (Ataojas) for blessings and it’s being led by the sitting Ataoja of Oshogbo, the Arugba, the Yeye Osun, and a committee of priestesses.

Unfortunately, I came there on the last day – but it was the main day.

The last day is specifically reserved for the virgin ritual Calabash carrier- Arugba.

Arugba at the Osun Osogbo festival by Mizta Atabo_villagecu;tureAfrica
Arugba beautifully covered at the Osun Osogbo festival

I stood in awe to watch how people make prayers to this lady, chanting in beautiful tones, she was their “Angel that passes the water only once a year”, and how they drank the brown water from the Osun River.

Everything was beautiful. The white clothes and colorfully beaded humans, the songs, the art works, the dance, the “push push” crowd.?

The only thing more beautiful than the African tradition is the African Tradition. ?

What festival have you been to?

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Travel & Tourism

6 thoughts on “Losing my cultural festival virginity

  1. With people like you,Tourism must be taking yo the next level…This is beautifully done, God bless your hand work.

  2. I enjoyed reading this piece. I found it interesting and educative especially since I got to learn a lot from my state of origin. Kudos!

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