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Edo culture and traditions

Edo culture and traditions

What are the brightest Edo culture and traditions that have survived through centuries? What are the most interesting customs and rites these people have preserved since the times of their ancestors? Let’s take a small trip down Edo memory lane.

Edo culture and traditions

Edo royals at a festival

Image source: vozafric.com

Who are Edo people now, briefly?

Edo people (also known as Bini) now occupy vast areas in the south of Nigeria. There are about one million and a half Bini people living in the Edo State and neighboring areas. Many centuries ago, these people created the Benin Kingdom. At that time, this kingdom was called Igodmingodo. The kingdom looked like a cluster of small towns scattered over vast territories of what was then called Bendel State.

READ ALSO: Historical origin of Fulani tribe

Now, this is Edo State and it marks almost precise boundaries of the areas where Bini people settle down. They are now known as one of the most (or, probably, even the most) artistic and bright tribe in the entire Africa. They have preserved plenty of the ancient traditions their ancestors had once. These traditions are interesting to look at even now, in the 21st century.

An overview of some interesting facts about Edo culture and traditions

Edo culture and traditions

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There are several interesting traditions in the spiritual culture in Edo state Nigeria. They have retained their authenticity through many centuries.

  • In spite of the Christianity, Edo people still have their traditional beliefs. They know the primary god who’s one like the Christian one and whose name is Osanobua. The people worship this god in a cathedral named Holy Aruosa (the Holy Eye of God)

This religion has nothing to do with the Bible or the Quran like Christianity or Islam. Instead, it has its own holy writing known as “Binis’ teaching and saying”. It’s as ancient as one can imagine. However, the entire worship ceremonies and the religion itself seems to have taken something from Judaism and traditional African beliefs.

There are no images of the God in the cathedral and when the believers pray, they look at the sky. All their collective prayers are finished with a traditional “Amen” chorus.

Edo culture and traditions

Image source: thenationonlineng.net

  • Edo people honor their ancestors with precise rituals. For instance, before people eat or drink, they offer a part to those who are long gone. This is a rule, which works for everyone, male or female. It’s a blasphemy if somebody violates the rule and shows disrespect to the ancestors

There are several sacred places where Edo people pray and worship, and honor their late family members. In families, they have their own altars where the eldest son of the surviving ones serves the spirits of the ancestors.

In the palace of the ruler, the Oba, there’s a separate altar where the Oba honors the late preceding Obas. Finally, there’s a public altar where the entire community gathers and worships the late ones through the oldest man in the community who leads the worship.

Edo culture and traditions

The Oba of Bini

Image source: thenationonlineng.net

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  • Edo people consider the head of a human something more than a body part. It’s an entity of a spiritual or divine type that leads a person to every success this person achieves. That is, there’s a special spirit, called Ehi, which undertakes the responsibility of guiding a person through the life and working as a compass in the person’s head

However, at the same time, they believe that there’s no chance to basically change what’s predestined for a person. In simpler words, he who’s not meant to be a king cannot become one and he who’s reached success in his life has a good spiritual compass.

Marriage traditions in Edo State

Edo culture and traditions

Image source: bellanaija.com

The traditions connected to getting married are worth a separate mentioning. A good deal of the existing traditions stem from ancient times but are still alive and kicking today.

First of all, an Edo wedding begins with preliminary visits to the future in-laws. These visits are necessary to arrange everything in a proper way in advance. To be ready for everything, young people usually get to know all the requirements that should be known before such visits. For instance, there’s no use visiting the bride’s parents for the first time without a gift.

It’s quite funny that even still it’s necessary to pay a certain bride’s price during the negotiations between the bride’s family and the groom’s one. Of course, these are formalities because the future spouses already know each other and agree to get married to each other. Still, money is paid even today!

Edo culture and traditions

Image source: bellanaija.com

Another funny ceremony is identifying the bride among other girls and women chosen by older ladies of the bride’s family. The groom is expected to choose the bride over and over again among other females, paying money again, and finally pick her out. Since that time, she’s given to the groom’s family for good.

Edo culture and traditions

Image source: bellanaija.com

These are more or less general requirements. In certain separate communities, these demands can differ quite significantly. However, there is one tradition that’s accepted by all Edo people everywhere: in addition to an exquisite traditional dressing, brides decorate their hair, head, neck, and shoulders with elaborate beadwork made out of coral. Quite often, such decorative elements are worn over complicated hairstyles.

Edo funeral rites and traditions

Edo culture and traditions

Day five of Edo funeral

Image source: youtube.com

Another ritual that should be mentioned separately is the ritual of funeral over a deceased member of the community. The funeral events take place during seven whole days in case the deceased one was a regular person and fourteen days in case a chief or even a king. Every day separate rites are held.

  • Day one: the body is washed and embalmed
  • Day two: all those present are offered food and other treats. The guests sing burial songs till the morning
  • Day three: a cow or a goat is given as an offering by the eldest surviving child of the deceased to honor the spirit
  • Day four is dedicated to the preparation for the day five
  • Day five: the children of the deceased walk through the town carrying a red box. This procession symbolizes the prosperity of the deceased one’s spirit
  • Day six: a person is dressed to represent the spirit of the deceased one. This person should by no means sleep till the dawn of the next day unless he or she might die soon
  • Day seven: the body of the deceased is taken to the burial ground where the person who represents the deceased one is standing like a statue. Another goat is chosen as a sacrifice

These are the amazing and unusual Edo traditions that have survived through many centuries. It’s likely that they will survive even further because sticking to the roots is not likely to get weaker in Edo people in spite of the modernization, globalization, and washing away of boundaries.

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