11 of the Biggest Cultural Festivals in Nigeria
1. Eyo FestivalRepresenting a unique and proud part of the Yoruba community. It is only fitting that the Eyo Festival be dedicated to the indigenes of Lagos. The indigenes also known as ?Isale Eko?, celebrate ?Eyo?, a cultural and traditional masquerade display, which emerges from the Iga (palace) of the Oba or any of his cabinet members. The ceremony/festival has overtime garnered fame and thus in modern times also serves as a tourist attraction for people all over the world. There are, however, a couple of important facts you should know about the festival.
5. Osun FestivalEvery August, lots of people from around the world throng to Osun State, Nigeria. Attending and participating in the famous, two-week long Osun-Osogbo Festival. It is held at the illustrious and sacred Osun Grove. The Osun-Osogbo festival, without a doubt, is more than just sacrifices performed to celebrate the Osun River goddess. There are several activities planned around the festival, as tourists and visitors all come to witness, interact and partake in the two-week long celebration.
6. New Yam FestivalThe New Yam Festival (Orureshi in the idoma area, Iwa ji, Iri ji or Ike ji, depending on the dialect) is an annual cultural festival by the Igbo people. Held at the end of the rainy season in early August. Observed mostly by the people of the Middle belt, South and East of Nigeria. It symbolises the conclusion of a harvest and the beginning of the next work cycle. In Igbo land, it ties the Igbo communities together.The harvest symbolises the abundance of produce. However, rituals are performed to express gratitude to the gods of the community for making the harvest possible.
7. Ofala FestivalThe historical Ofala Festival in Igboland is usually celebrated towards the end of every conventional year as an event that marks the end of the 13th month in Igbo calendar and the beginning of another Igbo year (Igu Aro). The festival is also celebrated as a sign of authority and legitimacy bestowed on the traditional ruler in the land to guide the people on the path of truth and wisdom. Hence, it is titled Ofo (Authority) Ala (Land). Today, the age-long social tradition has gained global recognition, therefore, it has become a major tourist attraction in Igboland. Ofala festival, which is celebrated as a way to keep the heritage of Igboland alive, is also an occasion for the traditional ruler to honour deserving individuals with chieftaincy titles.
8. CarniRivFrom cultural displays to an international Aquatic Fiesta, Street Parties, Heritage Parades, Praise Jam, a Beauty Pageant and a whole lot more, CarniRiv takes its place at the helm of carnival affairs. Held in Port Harcourt, the Carnival starts a few weeks before Christmas and lasts for seven days. During this time several ceremonial events are held, most of which hold some cultural and or sacred significance. CarniRiv bears a certain uniqueness as it combines two carnivals - a purely cultural carnival and a contemporary Caribbean style carnival- in one. It also features musical performances from both local and international artists. This gives it an edge over all other regional and continental carnivals and presents it with the principal advantage which must be consummately exploited.
9. Egungun FestivalEgungun refers to all Yoruba masquerades or masked figures that are connected to the ancestors as a collective force. 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 southwestern Nigeria. 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 suffer in the rain. Elaborate costumes adorn the Egungun masqueraders (dancers), and through drumming and dance, these dancers become possessed with the spirits of the ancestors. The Egungun then spiritually clean the community and through exaggerated acting/miming demonstrate both ethical and amoral behaviour that occurred since their last visit, exposing the strengths and weaknesses of a community with hopes of encouraging behaviour more befitting of their descendants.
10. Durbar FestivalHawan Sallah or Hawan Daushe as it is locally called is a royal parade of thousands of men on horses adorned with garments and regalia. It is a colourful display of culture full of pomp and pageantry. A spectacular traditional concert of and bazaar of African music. It is celebrated at the culmination of Muslim festivals Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. It begins with prayers, followed by a parade of the Emir and his entourage of horses, accompanied by music players, and ending at the Emir's palace. The festival is full of colourful processions led by the Emir and it features a competition between the Royal Calvary, drummers, trumpeters, praise singers and wrestlers, making it a widely viewed event in Northern Nigeria. The festival also showcases the full procession of villagers as they gather at the public square or in front of the Emir?s palace where the final parade holds.
11. Lagos CarnivalHeld during the Black Heritage Festival, Lagos Carnival has been held for over a century and is a celebration of the city's ancestry and the plurality of its identity. Street carnivals were first held by slave returnees and their descendants from Brazil, Cuba, Sierra Leone and Liberia, who brought with them a vibrant culture that still exists today. One of such culture has morphed into the pulsating and exciting Lagos Carnival! Usually centred on the Lagos Island, the event is filled with troop displays of beautiful costumes and various forms of entertainment including music and dancing.
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