Ceremonial Cycle

Ofala Atmospherics

Ofala Atmospherics

Ofala Atmospherics

Read about Ofala and it’s atmospherics.

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Ndichie at Ofala

Ndichie at Ofala

Ndichie at Ofala

Age Grade Societies at Ofala

Age Grade Societies at Ofala

Age Grade Societies at Ofala

Photos of Age grade at the Ofala.

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Overview

Onitsha ceremonial life involves a series of festivals, with each festival forming part of a continuum that helps to symbolically relate each aspect of social life to the wider reality. Six main festivals are celebrated in one Onitsha year. The basic sacred divisions of the year are set by the phases of the moon. The Obi proclaims each of the 28-day lunar months ONWA and defines the ceremonial sequences in terms of the seven four-day weeks OGE ISA that comprise each month.

The six festivals are as follows:

IFEJIOKU

This is usually celebrated in January and is essentially an homage to the yam spirit with a view to establishing the presence of this guardian spirit of yams in each strip of farmland to be cleared and cultivated.

AJACHI

Normally celebrated in June, it is a sacrifice to the Almighty and involves beseeching God to guide every adult in his labour* and help his/her crops prosper.

UMATO

This is the first harvest festival celebrated in June at the time of the maize harvest. Umato is a 16-day festival beginning with the exclusive celebration by the Obi for a four-day period, after which the celebration of the populace takes place. Umato entails a redistribution of new consumable wealth by the nobility to lesser mortals.

OWUWAJI

This is the new yam festival. It is normally celebrated in September and commences 24 days after the Umato, lasting for another 24 days. The Obi performs the ritual of eating the new yam after the various sections of Onitsha must have performed the ritual. The Obi must also during this period retire into a trance-like state for four days. This is known as INYEPU UKWU NA NLO EZE.

OFALA

This is the Obi’s annual emergence from seclusion, having assessed his relationship with God and the spirits, after which his body is washed to signify the end of his mourning. It is usually celebrated in October.

OSISITE

It comes nine days after the Ofala. This is the ceremony of cooking in the pot and signifies the end of the harvest cycle.