Important Things to Know About Egunguns & Their Festival, A Yoruba Festival That Unit Many People
Important Things to Know About Egunguns & Their Festival, A Yoruba Festival That Unit Many People: Egungun festival is an important event to the Yorubas as it is not just a celebration of their culture but an event that serves as a means to connect with the ancestors.
Egungun or Egun in Yoruba means a masquerade. The festival always pays respect to ancestors who are believed to be protecting the living. It is believed that the egungun is a representative of the spirit.
The festival is celebrated annually in most towns in Yoruba land and it is quite popular. However, despite its popularity, not all know some important things about them as they are mostly seen as object of scare with their canes.
Egungun and its many purposes
Guardian reports that the Egungun has different purposes as they could be for entertaining performance, protection and military use; a practice that was common in the pre-colonial era.
The performance of any egungun is believed to be inspired and energised by the spirit. This is said to be important so that the person wearing the colourful costume and the costume can be in sync. Once inside the egungun apparel, the performer is seen as a supernatural being.
It is important to note that that egungun in their costumes also have different names and should not be confused with each other.
This kind of masquerade is very colourful as it celebrates the essence of motherhood. The masquerade also fight for gender equality, showing that feminism is not a colonial and post-colonial phenomenon.
Alapansanpa masquerade was common in the past to fight battles in Ibadan and is said to come out only once in a year.
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Whenever it comes out, it heads straight to the Oluibadan palace where he whips the king thrice. Before departing, he is blessed with gifts. Visiting the king is very significant as not doing so could mean the king is a bad one.
Danafojura is also known as Egungun Oni Mojesin Baba Ibeji. It was gathered that masquerade cannot be consumed by fire, no matter its intensity. In the hierarchy of eguns, it is considered as the most respected.
It always tells his handlers Danafojura which translates as “set me on fire”.
The importance of egungun costumes
Speaking to Vanguard, Chief Ifaniyi Ajani Ogunjobi, Akoda Awo, Ijo Ato of Ebute Meta East explained why a masquerade’s colourful cloth is important in egungun festival. He said:
“A more elaborate dress reflects social power and prestige. In performances honoring ancestors, exquisite clothe is the major medium for the masker’s transformation. An Egungun costume is composed of multiple layers of cloth lappets made from expensive and prestigious textiles expressing the wealth and status of the family as well as the power of the ancestor….”
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