We Should Not Forsake The Essence Of The New Yam Festival

Some umu Igbo celebrate non-Igbo festivals with more enthusiasm than members of the culture that invented the festival. Yet, we must beg you to partake in the celebration of your own ancestral heritage.

In all the Igbo communities, the ‘Iri ji festival’ captures a cultural heritage which passes across the importance of Yam in the socio-cultural life of the Igbo people. It is necessary to note that yam apart from being the main agricultural crop of ndi Igbo is also the staple food. Various Igbo communities have their days for this auspicious event characterised by convivial festivities which heralds the eating of the new yam.

For different communities that make up Igbo race the “iri-ji ohu” may extend from a day’s event to a week-long affair which includes great pageantry and variety of entertainment, usually hinged on ceremonial rites by the traditional head “Igwe” (king), cultural displays, masquerades display, fashion parade and feasting on a grand scale.

The main factor of the festival is that at the inception, yams are offered to God and ancestors before shared to the villagers. The ritual is done either by the oldest man in the community, the king or revered title holder. After giving thanksgiving to God, they eat the first yam because it is believed that their status gives them the privilege of being intermediaries between their people and the gods/God/Ancestors. The ritual portends the community’s gratitude and appreciation to God for enabling a fruitful harvest. This explains profoundly, the three aspect of Igbo world-view that they are pragmatic, religious & appreciative.

The importance of the New Yam Festival captures their celebration after the cultivation season and a day set aside to thank the ancestors & God for their infinite protection and kindness in leading them from lean periods to time of bountiful harvest without calamities resulting from hunger.

Igbo unity is important to me, so I'd suggest that a day or two should be set aside for all Ndi #Igbo to celebrate this festival together just like; Chinese New year, Indian Festival of Light etc.

Umu Igbo mma mma nu o

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