Egungun festival is otherwise known as masked ancestors or masquerades of the Yoruba land which assures the people that the dead are among the living.
The history of Egungun is traceable to the then Alaafin Sango in the old Oyo Empire. Basically, Alaafin Sango did not want to lose contact with his dead maternal lineage in Tapa land when he became the Alaafin.
The thought of symbolic representation of the dead via a social costumed dressing to protect the identities of the people from his mother’s Tapa home came to him.
This Egungun was adopted by various Yoruba sub-ethnic groups as an avenue to communicate with the spirit of their dead ones. The Aworis see the Egungun as their deity and as such worship Egungun.
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Women roles in Egungun festival
Women are not allowed to put on the Egungun regalia although they constitute important aspect of Egungun group preparing the celebration of Egungun festivals.
They sing, clap and chorus the traditional songs. The women constitute a formidable team in the group. They are Iya agba oje. The elders of the ‘Oje’ while the young ones are known as Ode-Oje (The youthful Oje).
Time of the festival
The festival is usually an annual celebration performed within the months of November to April when there is no rain, with the belief that their ancestor should not have to surfer in the rain and has been passed successively down to generations.
The Egungun festival is a part of the Yoruba traditional religion. It is performed to mark the death of important personalities, the festival is common among the Egbas, Egbados, Oyo and other parts of south western Nigeria.
Order of the event
The festival is set off when the Chief priest of the Egugun Masquerades invokes the spirit of the ancestors ,this act is known as ”Alapi”, it is done when the Egugun masquerade and worshippers dance , drum and are now possessed by the ancestral spirit.
The Egungun masquerade is dressed in colourful regalia with a whip ,which is used to flog anyone in the way of the spirits.
Impact of the festival
Egungun Festival is believed to help develop trade and commerce and generally bonds the people of Yorubaland together regardless of their religious beliefs.
The festival is believed to help foster unity in the community and it is also Economically beneficial.
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