Sunday 14 August 2022

The History Of The 16 Sacred Lamp

The Ina Olojumerindinlogun Ritual: This is the traditional ritual that involves the lighting of a 16-point lamp which is believed to be over 600 years old. This ritual is carried out three days after the Iwopopo ritual is done.

Within the Osogbo cultural landscape, the lighting of the 16-point lamp is an important aspect of the annual Osun Osogbo festival. Expectedly, the all-night carnival featured traditional dances and music from various dance groups within Osogboland.

The night started with the palace chiefs lighting the 16-point lamp just before dusk after which the king came out accompanied with other ranking chiefs to dance round it. The king first had two round of dances around the lamp which was kept burning by a palace chief  who regularly added cotton wool soaked with palm oil to it. On the third round, the king and his palace chiefs took the dance rites around the city and before they returned, the lamps were put off and carried away to where it is stored till the next Osun Osogbo festival.

The spiritual significance of the lamp ritual can never be over-emphasized. Legend has it that the 16 point lamp was taken from the spirits in the Osogbo groove by a powerful hunter called Olutimehin. The lighting rites were in line with an instruction the hunter received from the goddess of Osogbo when he took the lamp from spirits in the forest.

In addition, Professor Wande Abimbola has argued that the sixteen lamps represent the sixteen major Orisa who organised the world, the sixteen major Odu Ifa and the sixteen palm nuts used in Ifa divination which also can be exoterically.

The lamp is part of the history of the founding of Osogbo kingdom. There was an elephant hunter called Olutimehin.

While searching for water during hunting in the Osun groove at night, he stumbled on some spirits dancing around this lamp. As a powerful hunter, he overpowered them and took the lamp from them. But the goddess of the river warned that for him to keep the lamp, he will have to replicate the dance steps of the spirits around the lamp. That is how Osogbo kingdom came about the lamp and just as we are doing every year, in the last over 600 years we have been doing it in compliance with what the deity requested.

It takes no special ceremony to light or put off the lights on the lamps, however two things must not happen; one, the lights must not go off when the king has not danced around it twice. Two the king must not return during his dance tour of the city to meet the lights burning. To ensure neither of the two undesirable events happen, a palace chief has to constantly stay around the lamp stand to keep it burning and put it off at the appropriate time.

To the Osogbo people the lighting of the lamp reminds them of their ties to the Osogbo deity. It is a time to renew and strengthen ancestral bonds.

Apparently, It means we are fulfilling the mandate that was given to us by the goddess of Osun Osogbo who allowed the hunter to keep the lamp provided he dances the spirit dance. The annual Osun Osogbo festival is a paramount celebration in Osogbo and it gives us the opportunity to reconnect with the deity of the land. It is a festival no Osogbo man would want to miss.

Source: #OsunFestival2022

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