The African continent is one rich in history as many people try to preserve the beauty of it by retelling the stories. Nigeria in particular is known for having several religions and traditional gods and these deities have interesting history.
In the Yoruba tradition, one of the deities that can boast of having several worshippers all over the world is the Osun goddess who is famed for being the god of fertility.
Many people gather for the annual Osun festival which is held at the sacred Osun-Osogbo grove. The grove itself is a home of several shrines and sculptures that it has become a beautiful edifice.
However, before the grove attained this level of popularity it used to be a neglected forest as priests abandoned it and shrines were neglected until Austrian woman, Susanne Wenger, transformed the grove.
Legit.ng has gathered seven interesting things to know about the grove.
1. In the 1950s the grove was an abandoned forest and actions like hunting, felling of trees, fishing and other things that disrupted the grove were in practice at the time. However, Austrian artist Susanne Wenger transformed the place and prohibited these acts. Susanne eventually became known as Adunni Olorisa and she learned the Yoruba tradition and also made artworks to beautify the grove.
2. The Osun-Osogbo festival holds yearly during the month of August at the grove and it entails beautiful cultural displays. The festival is usually a two-week-long programme.
3. According to reports, the festival starts with a cleansing of the town known as ‘Iwopopo’ followed by the customary lighting of a 500-year-old 16 point lamp called the ‘Ina Olojumerindinlogun’
4. Also, the festival entails the assembling of the crowns of the past Ataojas or rulers of Osogbo called the 'Iboriade'. The event is reportedly led by the sitting ruler of Osogbo as well as priestesses, the Yeye Osun and the Arugba. The significance of this action is reportedly for blessings.
5. The Arugba is a chaste lady who carries the sacrificial calabash on her head during the festival. Some ladies have been lucky enough to be the calabash bearer for many years and even look forward to doing it again.
6. It is said that a spirit descends on the Arugba as she dances and turns energetically with the calabash on her head without it falling down. The calabash is also said to contain food such as solid pap (eko) and other gifts to present to the Osun goddess in the river.
7. The Osun-Osogbo grove was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.
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