By Sodiq Lawal
The ancient city of Ile Ife was agog on Saturday as residents, priests from various countries, tourists, politicians and others dignitaries celebrated World annual Ifa Festival at Ifa Temple , Ooni’s palace in Ile Ife.
The Ifa Festival is an annual seven day event which ends on the first Saturday of June.
Ifa is an oracle of divinity and one of the principal deities of the Yoruba people.
The first day of the festival involves various rituals, including the plucking of leaves for Oni Oracle (Ijawe Ifa Ooni ) and vigil at the palace that involves cooking (Arisun Idana Afin) , while the second day is Oracle sacrifice for Ooni’s (Ifa Ooni).
The third and fourth days were dedicated to the performance of rituals, Awo Oloju Merindinlogun.
On the fifth day, a public lecture and roundtable discussion on women in Ifa took place at Ooni’s palace and preceded by a ritual performance led by the Chief Priest, Araba Agbaye .
Every worshipper of the Ifa diety prostrated and prayed in front of the shrine for the development of the ancient city.
A German tourist, Mr. Michael Ehrenberg said he came from Germany for the celebration Oracle in Ile – Ife as the source of the Ifa Oracle and the universe.
“Ifa has been globalised. There is no place you will go to in the world that you will not meet Ifa it is the diviner of the universe, I am here for blessing and prayer to witness prosperous year.
The President of Ifa Olokun Foundation Dr Ifakayode Faluade, Council of spiritual leaders, the Oranwale of Ife, Oloye Oriyomi Duyile of Trinidad and Tobago, the Supreme Council for Esu Devotees Affairs, Yeye Apena Awo Osogbo, Mrs Adedoyin Talabi and others dignitaries graces the festival.
Speaking with Ife City News, the Onimole Olu Ifa Agbaye, condemned the neglect of traditional religious practices and inadequate promotion of the nation’s culture by the governments, while linking most of the socio cultural problems to the neglect of cultural values.
“Governments need to play active role in promoting the elevation of our culture, especially traditional religion. They have neglected it in preference for Christianity and Islam and this does not amount to equality”
“I am calling on them to also give public holidays to traditional worshippers to celebrate our culture like other religions”, He said
Aworeni however debunked certain misconceptions about Ifa alongside some other deities in the Yoruba culture.
He noted that the traditional religion, Islam and Christianity share some similarities.