The Osun-Oshogbo festival is an annual festival celebrated by the Oshogbo people in Osun state of Nigeria, among the Yoruba people in western part of Nigeria. The festival is celebrated with reverence to the Osun river goddess who was said to have originally founded and established the Osogbo town several centuries ago.
The Osun-osogbo festival which is said have been celebrated for more than six hundred centuries, was built around the relationship between the river goddess called Osun and the Osogbo people.
According to legend, this festival began several centuries ago, when a group of people, led by a certain man settled by the river side to escape famine in their former dwelling place. Osun, the river goddess was said to have appeared to them and requested them to move some distance to the higher ground, the present day Oshogbo.
Osun presented herself to be the river goddess of the river and pledged to protect them and make their women fruitful if only they would offer an annual sacrifice to her in return. The group therefore agreed and pledged to offer sacrifice annually to the goddess if she would keep her promise.
Currently this annual sacrifice has metamorphosed into an international celebration and a global phenomenon with people attending from all over the world.
The Osun-Oshogbo festival is held every August annually and is a two-week long festival with thousands of people from all works of life gravitating to Osun State Nigeria to attend and witness this spectacular event.
Among the highlights of the Osun-Osogbo festival is the Arugba Ritual during which a calabash bearing the sacrifice materials that would be used to appeal and worship the goddess is carried around town by a votary virgin, on her head in a procession. As she leads the procession to the river, the people, seeing her as the representative of the river goddess cast their problems on her and begin to offer prayers, including the sick and barren.
The festival is not only about sacrifice, its also a celebration of cultural events and heritage.The people look forward to it with great expectation and for the period that it lasts, procession, dance, art exhibition, and colourful carnivals are major attractions of the Osun Oshogbo cultural festival.
The festival was upgraded by Susanne Wenger, an Austrian born artist. Her impact on the growth and popularization of the festival cannot be over emphasized thereby making the festival more renowned.
She therefore became the guardian and priestess of the Osun goddess on the bank of the osun River in Osogbo.
She made sure that the forest around the scenery was preserved and kept sacred. She passsed on 12th of january 2009.
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