History of Egungun festivals in Yoruba land


Masquerades (Egungun) is said to be a very beauteous and elegant deity that wears beautiful clothes, it is one of the most regarded gods in Yoruba land. Egungun festival is part of the Yoruba religious system, sometimes referred to as Orisa(a diety) which is being celebrated during festive seasons. 
Egungun is dressed with a mask and it assures people who celebrate it that dead people are still among the living ones. 

Alapini is the Chief priest of the Egunguns that call upon the spirits of the ancestors when it is time for its celebration. The festival is celebrated annually in the Yoruba kingdom, in almost all the towns and cities and this has tremendously contributed positively to the Nigerian economy, making the culture evergreen and also enhances unity among indigenous people.

Alagbaa in Yoruba land is an elderly person who comes from a family that celebrates Egungun and has it as their God. It is the Alagbaa that will preside the Egungun festival and give guidelines that will be followed, while Egungun priest is charged with the responsibility of invoking the spirit of ancestor and showcasing them to the public when it is time to. 

In the process of bringing the Egungun(masquerade) out and showcasing them to villagers, whips and drums are used. The whips(called Koboko in Yoruba) are used to beat everyone around while they dance around when the drums are beaten.

The believe is that; whipping people around during the masquerade festivals will help sanitize the town against evils and bad calamities. 

Egungun festivals are not celebrated for fun but during some tangible and sacrosanct traditional rites which some times marks the demise of a king, local chief or/and dignitary in the society which might have played an undiluted role. This is to make their demise a special one and a symbol that such person lived an exemplary live, and it is common among the Egba people, Egbado people, Oyo people, and other parts of Yoruba land. It is usually carried out during dry season when there is no rain with the belief that their ancestors should not have to suffer in the rain.

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