Ceremonies, Social Gatherings, and Rituals

 
The Ibo people have many ceremonies, social gatherings, and rituals that help them connect culturally, spiritually, and socially with each other. Even though the Ibo people have many more celebrations than we do, some of these rituals loosely resemble those of our own. Here are some of them:

The Feast of the New Yam

Yams

 
An event that is celebrated every year before the harvest, as a way of giving thanks to the goddess, Ani, and the source of all fertility. During this celebration old yams are disposed of to symbolize the upcoming arrival of the new yams of the year. Large amounts of yam foo-foo and vegetable soup are prepared so that no one goes hungry.(chapter 5)
 
This festival is somewhat similar to our present day Thanksgiving because of its symbolism of welcoming a new years harvest and of course tons and tons of food to eat with your family.
 

Bride Price Ritual

A ritual in which a price is determined for which the bride’s family must pay to the groom’s family in regards to the bride’s hand in marriage. The bride’s family presents a bundle of sticks to the groom’s family, which represents the number of bags of cowries paid to the groom’s family. In response, the groom’s and the bride’s family exchange the bundle back and forth, non-verbally (intended to be respectful), until a decision is made with the price.(chapter 8)
 
This ritual is similar to our present day engagement due to the fact that it is a proposal leading to marriage. However we usually just get a ring to symbolize this occasion instead of haggling with sticks.

Isa-ifa

A ceremony that is held if a wife had been separated from her husband for some time and were then to be re-united with him. This ceremony would be held to determine if she had not been unfaithful to him during the time of their separation. In this ceremony, a gathering of umada (family gathering of daughters) surround the bride in a circle, who has a hen in her right hand. They then proceed to ask questions of her faithfulness to her husband, in which the bride answers and swears on the staff of her father. Then the father would slit the throat of the hen, allowing the blood to fall on the staff. After which, the bride would leave with her husband to their obi (living quarters).(chapter 14)

Egwugwu Ceremony

African maskA judgment ceremony in which the town is called to the "egwugwu house" to settle a dispute between two families/parties by waiting for a gong to sound. The elders of the village sit in the front rows of stools with a row of nine seats in front of them. The plaintiff and the defendant gather in two groups in front of the crowd. When the gong does song, the nine "spirits" (representing the nine founders of each village) come out of the hut with masks on. The leader egwugwu, named Evil Forest, addresses both groups and receives their sides of the conflict. Then, the nine egwugwu spirits consult in the hut and then come out and give the verdict to the crowd.
(chapter 10)
 
This ceremony is similar to our present day court trials because the ewugwu (like a judge) are analyzing a crime/dispute that took place, determining the guilty party, and setting a consequence that the guilty party will have to follow.
 

Funeral

Whenever someone dies in the Ibo village under the correct circumstances (i.e. not being banished to the evil forest) a funeral is held for them. Unlike the funerals that we are used to, Ibo funerals are a time to a celebrate the one who has past and not lament over their passing. During the funeral ancient drums of death are beaten and even guns and canons are shot off. Many of the attendees wear smoked raffia skirts and have their bodies painted with chalkin charcoal. A godly ewugwu or two may even pay a visit to honor the deceased. At the end, the spirit of the departed is asked to move on peacefully.(chapter13)
 
This ceremony is similar to our present day funerals because they both deal with the putting to rest of a deceased individual. Even though one is much livelier than the other they are both meant to give us closure and to make sure that the deceased is in a better place.
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