Ancient Benin Kingdom & Edo State
 
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(Benin City Nigeria Local Time)
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EHO   FESTIVAL

Like Igue and Ewere festivals Eho is one of the popularly cherished festivals celebrated in Edoland it is an annual festival celebrated in mid-September. It dates back to pre-historical period and is occasions for paying homage to ancestors in every family unit; a period for cementing the unity of all brethren in the family fold and an occasion in which gifts are sent to fathers-in law.

Besides paying homage, the Binis believe that all who die hold meeting and appoint a time for answering prayer and soliciting for their children on earth before a more Supreme Being who they call Osa. This is why Eho festival is celebrated at various homes within a given period which lasts from nine days to two weeks.

On the advent of new moon in September, Chief Iyase, the leader of Eghaeybo None (state ministers) tells the Oba that it is time for Eho festival. On the Oba’s consents, he goes to prepare, Chief Iyase is always the first among the state ministers to celebrate it while Chief Ihaza is the first to celebrate it among the Eghaevbo-nogbe (palace ministers) it is after these two that other chiefs and commoners can celebrate.

The Celebration: Invitations are sent to relatives, friends and well wishes to attend the festival and there is an all- night dance a day before the real festival. Home and reflect celebrant members of his family, his sons and daughters-in-law as well as friends and well wishers assemble before the ancestral shrine. There they give thanks to their fore-fathers for all the good things of life including health and pray for protection, peace and prosperity in the coming year. It is on this occasions that unity is really cemented in each family- fold as brothers and sisters who have had dispute before then gather and pray together to a common ancestor for a common purpose.

Commoners sacrifice cocks, the chief’s cows during the celebration. But kola-nuts cocoa-nuts and assorted types of wines are lavishly used irrespective of the celebrant’s status in life. The rich and the well-to-do- also invite old women to their homes to sing traditional songs.

The third day is set aside for feasting and merriment while the commoners dance and entertain friends in their homes, a chief dresses in full traditional regalia and dance to the palace where he pays homage to the Oba, This is a very colourful and interesting aspect of the festival as traditional music fills the air. It is this occasions also that relatives, friends and well-wishers put on their best clothes to display family affluence.

On getting home from the palace, the celebrant continues merriment while meat is distributed as a token of goodwill to friends, relations and well-wishers at home and elsewhere. There is sumptuous feasting and drinking from the time to about two weeks later when normal work is resumed.

Unlike the Igue and Ewere festival which are celebrated by everybody on the same day, Eho is celebrated according to the wish of each family unit but within a generally accepted period, which is September.