How Sango Festival Is Celebrated From Day 1 To Day 10 in Oyo State Nigeria

JEROME MICHAEL EBRUPHIYO Wednesday, December 8, 2021 Basis



This article will provide information on how Sango festival is celebrated from day 1 to day 10 in Oyo state Nigeria and also provide answers to questions regarding Sango festival celebration.

Brief History of Sango Festival Celebration in Oyo State Nigeria

The Sango Festival celebrations can be traced back to 1,000 years ago following the departure of Sango, a popular Yoruba Òrìsà who is widely regarded as the founding father of present-day Oyo State. Sango was a notable strong ruler and magician who became king of the Oyo Empire after succeeding his elder brother who was perceived to be a "weak ruler". Believed to bring prosperity to the people of the Oyo Empire during his reign, Sango's death has been linked to different mythical stories. It is believed that Sango committed suicide by hanging himself in order to avoid humiliation from one of his powerful chiefs who ordered Sango to vacate his throne or face war. Sango was said to have reigned for just seven years as King over Oyo but with such a powerful leadership he was counted as the best King ever in the history of Oyo rulers. During the 2021 festivity, the Ayabas i.e. the wife's of King boast of how they stopped rain from falling which would have disturbed the ceremony after consulting the Yemoja and the Sango priest. Also, the festival is said to start with Iwure Agba meaning the prayer of the elders that is usually led by the Sango priest. The crowning of the Alaafin is usually done at the shrine of Sango in koso. It is a significant event for the Alaafin because without wearing the crown of Sango, he is not yet regarded as an Alaafin. The crown gives him the right to rule from the old Oyo Empire to the present Oyo. No doubt, the Sango Festival has lived up to its biling as a special day for the unification of the Yoruba race.

What is the Significance of Sango Festival Celebration in Oyo State Nigeria?

Since its renaming in 2013, the event which is usually held in August and runs for a week attracts over 20,000 spectators around the world including Brazil, Cuba, Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. The event which is recognized by UNESCO, is organized to facilitate the home-coming of the Yorubas in the diaspora and also celebrate Sango who is regarded as the greatest hero in the history of the Yoruba race.

Who is Sango?

Sango was the third Alaafin-king of old Oyo empire. He took over from his brother Ajaka who was regarded as weak. During his reign he was constantly fighting battles with other towns. He mistakenly destroyed his palace with lightning which brought about the end of his reign. Sango is widely referred to as the God of thunder. He ruled Oyo kingdom for seven years and married three wives Oya Oba and Oshun. He is worshiped on the fifth day called ojo Jakuta. His followers like to wear a red attire which was his popular clothings.

How Sango Festival Is Celebrated in Oyo State Nigeria

It is a 10 days event, which is marked with pomp and pageantry. Worshippers and visitors can be seen in a happy mood. The worshippers are usually adorned with white or red attire.
  • Day one of Sango Festival
  • The first day of the festival is celebrated with games of different kinds including: Ayo competition and Ogun Ajobo Day traditional night rites.
  • Ayo Competition of Sango Festival
  • Ayo is a special game that is popular among the Yorubas. It is one of the oldest games in Yoruba land and it is usually played by aged men sitting face to face. It involves moving pebbles from one hole of the board to another. It is a carved wooden, fairly rectangular object with a total of twelve circular carved out pockets arranged in two rows, six pockets in each row. The wood used to make the Ayo is very light due to the continuous drying of the wood. It contains elaborate decorations on both side of the board. The board is trapezoidal in nature and the appropriate size measured top – 20”x 12” / bottom – 22” x 12”.
  • Ogun Ajobo Day of Sango Festival
  • The Ogun Ajobo Day is celebrated on the second day of the festival. On this day, the traditional groups from the Oyo zone make great display to the cheers of people. Olode Cultural Display from Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Ogun and Kwara States would be paraded from Owode in Oyo town to the palace of Alaafin. A night party is usually held called the Aisun Koso featuring some popular Yoruba artist amidst drinking and eating.
  • Third Day of Sango Festival
  • Other cultural groups such as the Igunu and Omolulu would display their performance. This day is called the Sango Obakoso day.
  • Fourth Day Sango Festival
  • On this day the shrine of Sango koso would be opened. This is usually marked by wide celebrations from performance from the members of the Asso­ciation of Nigeria Theatre Arts Practitioners (ANTP) and followed by a night party for Oya Okenira.
  • Fifth To Ninth Day of Sango Festival
  • From Sunday down to Thursday and Friday, there would be celebrations of Oyo State, Oya Day, Aje Oloja Day, Sango Oyo Day, Osun State Day and Iyemonja Day, Esin Elejo Day as well as Kwara State Day. This period is usually filled with excitement and wide celebrations among the people.
  • Day 10 of Sango Festival
This day marks the ending of the festival. On this day, a group of followers called Elegun Sango would entertain the crowds with magic which many, find frightening. The Elegun Sango come from different parts of the country such as Oyo, Ekiti, Ede, Ibadan, Ajagba and Koso. They usually plait their hairs and their eyes are usually looking frightening. The Elegun Sango Koso Alaafin, is usually the last to appear on the stage at the grand finale. He would go round Oyo township, praying for people, before coming to the palace. He greets the people and goes to Iya Ilekoto before leaving the palace.

How is the Sango Festival celebrated?

The Timi, or king, meets the worshippers at a place near the river, accompanied by drummers, trumpeters, and a huge crowd of onlookers. The women of the palace put on a special musical performance praising all the tribe's rulers throughout its history.

Why is the Sango Festival celebrated?

Sango Festival is an annual festival held among the Yoruba people in honour of Sango, a thunder and fire deity who was a warrior and the third king of the Oyo Empire after succeeding Ajaka his elder brother.

How is Ogun festival celebrated?

The blacksmiths of the city of Ife donate new cutlasses, hoes and bell gongs, and the shrine is beautified with palm fronds, cowries and other items. Libation is then poured, a ritual dance is conducted around the shrine, and prayers are offered. Dogs are prepared for sacrifice.

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