Benin kingdom/Edo state Festivals

Edo state has a very rich tradition of festivals and masquerades through which the people either appease the various gods and goddesses, purification of both the land and individual celebrant,initiate men or women into age-grades or as a traditional get-together. More than one hundred major festivals are celebrated in the state between September and March every year. Those celebrations offer opportunities for re-unions of members of the family and friends, it also offers opportunities to visitors to see and feel the rich cultural heritage of the state.

The Igue festival takes the pre-eminence among festivals celebrated in the state. The most colorful and paramount importance to the people of Benin .It is celebrated every December by the reigning Oba and his subjects to marks the end of the Benins year and to usher in the new year and as a thanksgiving for the outgoing one. The Igue festival attracts visitors from across Nigeria and abroad. Celebrated annually during the ancient time in the month of September .Oba Akenzua II moved it to the month of December to coincide with other series of festivals. No one can say the exact date or when it began. but tradition says that when the ancient Benin man became conscious of his creator and his success in his undertaking, he thanks his head and god.He believed that his head led him through the successful adventures of the year.When Oba Ewuare The great {1440-1473}came to the throne, he made many innovation into Igue festival because of the terrible experience he had in his early life, before he was crowned the Oba of Benin

Most of the Festivals have a yearly cycles and are open to general viewing and sometimes, participation some other like the Obazu festival held among the Aomas of luleha in Owan West Local Government Area the state is strictly restricted to the men folks.

Among the Esan, Ukpe Festival hold annually between December and January in Ewossa,Ewohimi, Ewatto, Ebelle and Ogwa. It is celebrated to appease the gods to bring prosperity.

In Ihievbe, Owan Local Government Area, Iko Festival is held from November to february to initiate girls into womanhood. In Ozalla, Ivbamen festival is held in April to iniate boys into manhood similarly, Irhua is celebrated in Auchi, every two years to initiate youths into manhood

The masquerades in Edo state are generally believed to be earthly representative of some celestial gods, goddesses or ancestors .Masquerades like the Igbabonelimi of Esanland are very popular social entertainers whose secrets and working are only know to initiates who are sworn to utmost secrecy.

Many masquerades are linked to traditional festivals,while others are only social and have no ritualistic backgrounds or undertones.

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