Friday 6 May 2016


They might be Abiku believed to have lived several lives or Emere believed to be souls wandering in and out of the spirit world thereby causing sorrow and distress to their relations in the physical world of the living.

Thus, if a married woman was barren or giving birth to Abiku children or if she was subject to strange behaviour or prone to inexplicable illness, she could be made to go through her Obitun propitiation rite to appease the spirit believed to be troubling her because she did not perform the Obitun rite as a maiden or because it was not properly done.

However, whether it was for a maiden or for older woman, the Obitun ceremony followed basically the same ceremonial pattern. Having been dressed up with the appropriate body markings and accompanied by their relatives, the Obitun first proceeded to the house of the nearest female chief to propitiate the goddess of wealth and fertility, because each Opoji in Ondo kingdom is expected to have Aje shrine in her house.

In the evening of the first day of the initiation ceremony, all the initiates and their relatives gathered in the house of the person organising the ceremony where they would dance and sing to a special type of drumming known as "Esi" The special rite was also performed by offering Kolanut and monkey leg on the sacred drum.

After this rite, a mock betrothal ceremony called "Ayegbe" would follow, during which a stand-in spouse would now come in, prostrate before the Obitun's father asking for her hand in marriage.

The father in-law would send him back to bring two gourds of Palm wine, as betrothal gift to the Obitun's father, when he brings the palm wine, the would-be "father in-law" acquiesces to the match and admonishes the bride to be of good behaviour as a good wife and good ambassador of her family.

He would also warn the groom to take good care of her and never maltreat her. Then prayers are offered for her fertility and marital happiness. This aspect of the Obitun ceremony which is called mock betrothal is not carried out in the case of a married woman, but in the case of a maiden, it is an essential part of the initiation process.

The prayers offered at this stage are based on the very strong traditional belief that a girl who was not wayward and who received these prayers from her father would fare very well in marriage.

As part of this ceremony, the bridegroom does a special dance to publicly identify his bride, the groom would dance and seizes the hand of his chosen bride from among the initiates to the applause of the crowd.

The next step after this ritual drama was the "Egbee Song Session" a group of people who had been initiated for years back would gathered to sing and dance for the initiates. They will contained explicit instructions to prepare the maiden for her new role as an adult and as a wife.

As the Obitun was more or less a public declaration by the family that the girl was available for marriage, Egbee songs were also used to instruct her on family and societal ethics as related to the new marital life the young maiden was about to enter.

The songs contained warning against extramarital relationship with her in-laws. She must also show respect for her co-wives especially those senior to her. As part of the preparation for womenhood and to give her a foretaste of her duties at home, the Obitun was expected to prepare the pounded yam exclusively on her own at one point during the ceremony.

On the third day of the ceremony, rites were performed to drive away the familiar spirit from the body of the Obitun and from her future life. This duty is performed by an aged woman in the house, touching the head of the Obitun with three kolanuts, three akara balls and the hind leg of any bush animal.

On the fourth day, this stage is almost delighted to witness by the young boys, a morsel of pounded yam dipped in local Okro sauce would be offer as sacrifice to the familiar spirits to leave the Obitun, the pounded yam would be serve to everybody that attend the programme.

The same rituals were also performed on the seventh day with the number of the ritual objects raised to seven. On the ninth day also the spirits were again propitiated and driven away finally from the life of the Obitun. The girl then moved out of the inner room and walked outdoors until they got to a cross road where they carried out the final rite.

At the cross roads, the final rites were performed with kolanut and walnuts. The Obitun then comes out and must not look at the back until she gets home, the goddess of fertility was again worshipped on her behalf.
The ninth day was the outing ceremony, beautifully attire would be worn by the Obitun as on the first day. The Obitun's danced round the town, as newly initiated maidens ready for marriage and other adult duties.


  1. This is so interesting and informative. I want to know what time of the year the obitun festival takes place.

  2. This is so interesting and informative. I want to know what time of the year the obitun festival takes place.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...