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

Oriminyan is celebrated at Ogute-Evbiame in Emai Clan for three months (January- March), and in some parts of Ora and Iuleha. Although the festival is celebrated annually, a new age group is initiated every fourth year. It is celebrated to ensure peace and plenty in the town. The main features are masquerade dance in the evening at the centre of the town and merriment every five days and young men participate in the events. The masquerades wear marks and image and people regard them as heavenly spirits and not man-made.

The uninitiated is not allowed to come out at night on the first day of the festival when the masquerades parade the town and make awful sound. Women are also forbidden from seeing the enclave where the masquerades are clothed. Dances are held every five days- the market day during the three- month period. When an age group of 25 to 30 years is admitted into the village society as reaching maturity the women of that age group join the men in public festivities. It is usually an expensive undertaking.

Their ‘comrades’ at home and abroad contribute financially to purchase materials for use in observing the festival. Some of the women would have married and their husbands participate actively if they are indigenes of Ogute. Some of the men might have at this age got married. Likewise their wives participate in the events that are open to the public. Names are given to the masquerades to identify their duties and a responsibility to other Okokoghokor for example is diminutive type and wears a mark (resembling those commonly made in the South Eastern State) with terrible eyes and pointed nose. His duties are to prevent intruders in the dancing area and protect other masquerades from being overwhelmed by the excited surging crowd.

Odili is another. It bears a headgear of carved (the people do not accept the word ‘carved’) object of a person carrying a bowl on his head Odidi is best dancer among them all it is the father of the masquerades. Other are Ovbiomo (mother of a child), Ogbesi. (Horsemen) Okhuokpan (Gift-giver).

As interesting as the dances are, the people do not allow photographs of the masquerades to be taken. Until recently also, visitors were asked to roll their trousers up to the knee if they are to wait and watch the dances at the area. This is done to ensure that no one imitates the ‘super-natural’ masquerade in the mode of costume, the masquerade in the mode of costume. The masquerades are actually dressed in the buba-sokoto system raffia veil attached to the carved image that they bear. Only Okokoghokor bear a woven palm frond in two hands--- which he used to stem the crowd.

Ogute is only two kilometers from Afuze and an hour’s drive from Benin City.
Other annual festivals in Emai clan: are Agangan for Emai clan as a whole; Esiokhai for Urule; Okereke for Evbiamen and Ukpedugbea for Ovbiowun.

Agangan is celebrated for only a day in July/August, Esiokhai for three days in November,Okereke---three days in December and Ukpedugben—one day in the month of October.