X-ray on Egwu-Ori Festival in Urum Anike

Egwu-Ori Festival, Anambra: Urum is one of food basket communities that make up Awka North Council Area of Anambra State, Nigeria. Urum has common boundaries with Amanuke, Achalla; Isuaniocha, Mgbakwu, Ukwulu and Nawgu Communities respectively.


Egwu-Ori Festival, according to Ekwoanya Matthew, “is an agrarian festival which is held annually to mark the end of agricultural year and to welcome the beginning of another one and it usually takes place between the Month of January and February in every passing year in Urum and its environs.”


He went further to explain that “it’s an event that offers the good people of Urum Anike Ancient Kingdom an opportunity to honour, venerate and pay homage to Ori deity as their pantheon god of war as well as the ancestors as intermediaries of God/ gods (Chukwu Okike Abiama) for a successful farming season and they used the occasion to pray and hope for another glorious farming season.”


And Egwu-Ori is revered and regarded as Ori’s birth anniversary celebration because Urum Anike as a war like community had a legend that has it that Ori deity could easily turn to able-bodied men in order to defend Urum Community and her territory during the time of war since time immemorial and till date.


Ori deity is a male divinity that has a wife who is a breastfeeding mother with her lactating baby; Ori always has his head dotted with a red cap which depicts that he’s a deity with Ozor title in Urum and its environs. Ori is a very jealous deity because of his command of authority and prowess and that’s why a legend has it that he could not allow Ezu River to flow through Urum Anike and its environs because it will be drowning his children as well as worshippers.
Nevertheless, Egwu-Ori Festival begins upon the sighting of new moon 🌙🌙🌒🌒🌒🌙🌙🌙🌙🌒🌙 which marks the beginning of public appearance/display of masquerades especially the Lion 🦁 masquerades that parade at nights as guardian spirit of the Community. They usually send warning signals to people who keep late night to put out their lights to avoid being attacked by the evil spirits.


The parade of Lion Masquerades last for three Native weeks that is 13 days (Izunator). On Eke Market day which is popularly known as “Eke Nri Uchicha” in Urum parlance. In this year’s Egwu-Ori Festival Akitinyi Village, Urum organized Iba Mmanwu or Ima Mmuo for the boys between the ages of 9 and 12 in their Village Square and it means the process of enlisting the boys into the Masquerade cult. Therefore, it is an act of having the knowledge of the meaning, purpose and significance of masquerades or spirits in Urum Cultural practice, traditions and customs.

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In Urum Community, Nze na Ozor title taking is highly esteemed and respected as a sign of maturity and show of affluence because Ozor is a social status symbol in Urum Anike taken by those who can afford it or who have relations and friends to sponsor them provided they are people who have upright character and integrity and they are responsible and respected throughout Urum Community. Therefore, in this year’s Egwu-Ori Festival there are about 16 persons who were newly and recently inducted into the Prestigious Ozor Society of Urum Anike; and they will be going out for their Official market outings/public appearance after their three months of period of seclusion and hibernation.


Meanwhile, Egwu-Ori Festival is also to thank the gods/ ancestors for a bumper harvest and it’s usually a very great and big celebration for the people of Urum Anike who normally troop out en masse to mark the days of the auspicious occasion.


On Afor Market day, people will start visiting the Sacred “Obu Ori” where they will pay homage, make supplications and state what they need/ want to the gods to do for them and also fulfill the vows to Ori deity.

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From Nkwo to Oye/Orie Market days, Egwu-Ori usually takes place in a village Square which presents a conducive atmosphere where all the people of gather together to their rich cultural heritage and traditional practice with different cultural attires, dance groups and costumes to cheer themselves up as they were being entertained by masquerades and youths with their canes.


The four Villages in Urum have their own turns within the specified five days of the Festival to showcase manliness and superiority over others; display of their foods, activities, newly sown dresses masquerades and able-bodied youths that dominance in Egwu-Ori Celebration who engage in Ikpa Ogbondu that is flogging themselves below the belt and on their trousers to the admiration of the spectators which is the climax of the festival.


However, people Urum Anike are using the celebration of Egwu-Ori Festival to call on the government of His Excellency, Prof. C. C. Soludo to come to their aid as Fulani herdsmen have devastated their farmlands which are their means of livelihood; they also want the Governor of Anambra State declare a state of emergency on the area of roads infrastructural development in Urum and Awka North Council Area in general. They equally want the Governor of Anambra State to make “Obu Ori’ a tourist attraction Centre because friends and tourists from all the neighbouring Communities come in their large number within the five days of the event and get hosted in the village Squares where they are treated to assorted drinks, food and other local delicacies.


Happy Egwu-Ori Festival to Traditional practitioners in Urum Anike!

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Mr. Matthew Amaechi Ekwoanya (MC ICHOKU), writes from Urum Awka North Council Area of Anambra State.

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