Ugbete Festival

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Last update June 1, 2020

Igarra was said to have been first inhabited by Anafua people. The leader of Anafua people was known as Uno. On arrival at the present site, one Prince Ariwo Ovejijo was said to have claimed the land, and so Uno surrendered it and evacuated his people. The handing over ceremony was without rancour or bitterness.

As the handing over was done through mutual agreement on Ugbe day, Ugbete festival has since been celebrated in commemoration of that historic day and to appease the soil to yield good harvest. Ugbete itself means ‘the worship of Igarra soil.’

The festival is observed for a day on the first week of April annually. The day of celebration is decided in the meeting of council of elders. The decision is later conveyed to the people by the Otaru of Igarra who beats the traditional Arigede drum to herald the festival. From that time on, al! Farming implements are kept out of sight and no manual labour involving the use of implements is done throughout Igarra area for two consecutive days.

Anyone who sees or uses any farming implements on Ugbete festival day is customarily fined according to the wishes of the elders. It is a taboo for anybody resident in Igarra to abuse his neighbour on Ugbete day as such abuse is believed to bring bad luck.

The celebration of Ugbete festival involves dancing throughout the town with songs of supplication to the gods to bring moderate rainfall and moderate sunshine for abundant harvest. Daughters of both the late and living Otaru of Igarra take active part in the celebration by preparing various kinds of food for the sacrifice at the shrine in the Palace. The food is distributed to all and sundry.

Only Arigede traditional drum is beaten throughout the period of celebration. The ceremonial parade is always led by the Chief Priest of the town who ties white cloth round his waist and dances with other participants round the town of Igarra.

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