There’s no place like Naija! more and more people are discovering the countries beauty and cultural riches, with travel to the region on a steady rise. For those daring enough to venture off Victoria Island, there is a myriad of sensory pleasures available. This is our list of six must-see festivals that are a feast for the ears, eyes and soul.
1. Eyo Festival
The Eyo Festival, otherwise known as the Adamu Orisha Play, is a Yoruba festival unique to Lagos. Originally this festival was to escort the soul of a dead Oba of Lagos (King or Chief) and welcome in the new ruler. White ‘Eyo’ clad masquerades on stilts wearing hats and masks with intricate beading and needle-craft can be seen in their thousands. The festival takes place whenever occasion and tradition demand, though it is usually held as part of the final burial rites of a highly regarded chief in the king’s court.
2. Sango Festival
Sango ( also known as Chango or Xango in Latin American and in the Caribbean as the king of the Orishas (gods and goddesses). The festival is to celebrate Sango who, according to oral history, was the ancient Yorbua God of thunder and the third King of Oyo Kingdom. He was regarded as a strong warrior which at the time was a symbol of power and truth. He was said to be so powerful that he transformed the kingdom and transported culture of Oyo far beyond Yoruba–land and the Oyo empire. The festival is characterised by the array of red worn by the Sango faithful, while the Ifa priests are clothed in white regalia.
3. Durbar Festival
An annual festival celebrated across Northern states showcasing the rich, colourful history of ancient Islam across the region. It is celebrated at the end of Muslim festivals Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The festival begins with prayers and followed by a parade of the Emir and his entourage on horses, accompanied by music players, and ending at the Emir’s palace. The parade features horseman wearing colorful traditional robes, indigo turbans, ostrich feathers and glistening swords honor their Emir who enters the parade accompanied by music players, and ending at the Emir’s palace.
4. New Yam Festival
This annual cultural festival gives thanks to the earth and its bounty for the first harvest of fresh yams. The festival called "IJESU" by the Yoruba tribe and called 'IRIJI" by Igbo tribe, gives the opportunity to makes sacrifices and thank their gods for the abundance of food. There is a whole ritual of celebrations and sacrifice that have to be done before the new harvest yams can be eaten. The festival is characterised by women in beautiful wrappers parade the new yams piled high on their heads in seemingly superhuman displays of balance and strength.
5. Argungu Fishing Festival
In a village in Kebbi state, this centuries old tradition of extreme fishing is held for four days dates back to 1934. Only traditional fishing nets or bare hands are allowed, and bearing in mind that some fish in the Malan Fada River weigh more than a human, that is no mean feat!
6. Osun Festival
Osun (also known as Oshun in Latin American and the Caribbean) is the Orisha of all things feminine; the intensity of the feelings, spirituality, sensuality, gentleness, refinement and love. She is represented as a beautiful woman dressed in yellow or white, always smiling and cheerful but heartbroken inside. Held at the Oshogbo Sacred Forest for seven days, devotees travel from all over the world (especially Cuba, where she is most popular) come wearing white to bathe in the waters and give offerings of flowers, honey and gold to hope their wishes and dreams will be fulfilled.