Monday 23 May 2022

Odun-Ifa [Ifa Festival]: The concluding part

Ifa Festival has the virtue of being part of an insider literature that captures the self-understanding of traditions. It is part of a process in of understand the importance and the spiritual value of what you practice and belief.

Ifá is a Yoruba way of worship and system of divination. Its literary corpus is the Odu Ifá. Orunmila is identified as the creator, and it is he who revealed the system and the practice of Ifa. 

Ifa teaches that every ori or individual is incarnated by a specific Odu. This means that a particular energy-pattern is at the foundation of the ancient knowledge and belief in Eleda.

Part of what must be believe is Odu ifa with Ese ifa. The ese, considered the most important part of Ifa divination, are chanted by the babalawos in poetic language. The ese reflect Yoruba history, language, beliefs in Orisa, this considered the most important and most reliable system of divination, enables supplicants to understand the will of the Supreme Being Olodumare (also known as Eleda or Creator/God). Olodumare empowered Orunmila, the knowledge of divination, to speak for the numerous Yoruba deities (orisa) through the divination, ritual and sacrifice.

Through Ifa, the role of the diviner (known as a babalawo) is to help an individual or community to see what is in store for them in their day-to-day lives. The purpose and the importance of Odun ifa is to feed Mariwo Ope. Mariwo Ope or simply call it Ope gave us the ikin which is considered to be ifa. To whom much is given much is expected. Mariwo Ope seek our thanks giving, no wonder ile ife babalawos and Olorisa (Traditionalist) start the ifa festival by performing ritual at the coconut tree at Oke Igeti here in ile ife, which location is every close to Oke Itase. 

Then, the second day of the festival at night while the Mariwo Ope at Oke Itase World Ifa Temple (Ifa Agbaye) will be fed before midnight. The committees of the world ifa festival will arrange the materials to feed the Mariwo Ope, then individual can give their offerings to feed the Mariwo Ope and the simplest materials you can offer are cold water, dry gin and kolanut. The Araba, Awo Olodu and other babalawos present must have offer their prayers to all the people present and not present, the towns, cities, communities, villages and even go further to pray for Nigeria and the whole world but before that, the king must have started the festival earlier been the most senior. 

This year festival will start on monday May 30th 2022, with Ooni of feeding his ifa which the ritual is called Asun Ida ina or shorten to be Asun idana. This is always done at late in the night till the day break where babalawos will come to help Ooni feed his ifa with Erinla (a cow that has no horn). All interested traditionalist or any interested person can be there to eat, drink, sing and dance because it is always a big party. 

First Saturday in June (June 4th 2022) is Oke Agbonmiregun, the coming of the king, the Ooni of ife with his Emeses and loved ones to pray, give his offering at the Mariwo Ope and also to witness the yearly ifa divination, seeing Ifa Agbaye being cast in his presence always make it more encouraging. 

The sitting position of the Araba Agbaye, the Awo Olodu of ile ife and other babalawos present to make the divination and give their verses of whatever odu ifa that appear on the opon that year is another memorable experience not to be forgotten. Which ever Odu ifa that comes out will speak about what the future is set to be until we get another odu in the following festival that will supersede and override the previous year Odu ifa. New year Odu will emerge to serve till the next festival.

Another importance of this festival is to let the world know just like the Christian have there own calendar which most of the world follow (b.c to a.d), just as the Muslim have hijri,  we have 5days a week in our own calendar and every first Saturday in June is always our own New year. So we always use this festival to display our calendar for world to know that we don’t operate same calendar with Christian or Muslim.

Ifa must not be practice in a dirty way, so this festival require the Araba and the Awo Olodu of ile ife to shave any where there is hair in their body.  The Araba starts this own Odun by the ritual ilefin Araba (Araba ma di ekun) and the Awo Olodu follow. Other babalawos in ile ife is been regarded as Awo Elegan. So after the Araba starts the Odun with ilefin. Then Awo Olodu must complete their own before Awo elegan will start and Awo elegan must finish their odun before Olojo festival.

Lets talk about Odu Ifa Eji Ogbe, there is a verse peculiar to people of ile ife alone. 

On the day of ilefin Araba, the king must not see the Araba, it is believe the Araba have turned to Ekun. The pointed pattern, design or mark with efun (white) and osu (red) will make the Araba to appear like Ekun or inform of Ekun.  

The present Araba Owolabi Awodotun Aworeni have made a costume  that will make him look like a leopard on the day of the ritual ilefin Araba. 

Eji Ogbe says :

Bitin bitin loku ki irawo ko to Osupa

Bitin bitin loku ki  Araba ko to Ooni


Only small difference between the star and moon

Just a few difference between Araba and Ooni.

Both Araba and Ooni are regarded as king in ile ife, the difference Eji Ogbe talks about in that odu ifa is that Araba is the king of isese (Oba isese or Olu isese) while  Ooni is the king of the town.  

Don't  ile ife still have another king called Tele " Oba  Tele " a stranger must be install as this  king, Ooni of ife must be responsible for his feeding, accommodation, clothing  etc. because he is also a king and every ile ife indigene respect and honour him cos he is the one to carry the ritual of death and sickness of ile ife people away to forbidden forest. Hmmm I will write much about it later and how they are been chosen and installed. Let me quickly figure out few points of this. First is that a stranger must come by himself, they all claimed they were chosen  by the orisa. They always hear a voice that will tell them to come to ile ife to be crown as Tele. 

Second, no matter how nice they look, physically or medically fit, after being installed as Tele they will become dull, I mean someone that have lost his mind. Last they don't live long, cos if Tele live long, is a threat  to Ooni, that Ooni's life will be short, no Oba Tele have ever live for 10years, it is always  between the range of months to 3years, that's why ife indigene can't be Tele cos you can't sacrifice your own child to clean the land  " Won ki  omo ire bo  ire" .

I will continue this article with the purpose and the importance of Olojo festival. 

Thanks for reading.

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