Festivals are one of the oldest and widespread cultures around the world. A festival is a series of public events connected with a particular activity or idea.
Festivals are celebrated in different parts of Europe and Africa. During festivals and carnivals, masks are worn over the face.
Tracing down to Nigeria, there are the Calabar carnival and the Ikeji Masquerade Festival of Arondizuogu in Imo state.
The Ikeji masquerade festival is a highly valued cultural heritage held by the Igbo people of Arondizuogu in Imo state.
A masquerade is a type of special mask worn over the face to hide an identity. The festival is marked with different display of masquerades dancing around the villages while representating the Igbo traditional religion.
The Significance Of Ikeji Festival:
Ikeji masquerade festival is held between the months of March and April. For the indigenous people of Arondizuogu, it is a festival of thanksgiving and merriment, which successfully marks the end of the farming season, arrival of harvest and the beginning of a new season.
It is usually an annual event which takes four days (which is equivalent to one week of the English calendar). On each of these four market days has its own significance and represents a particular aspect of the festival.
Revenue: Economically, this festival of the Izuogu people of Imo state, serves as a revenue through tourism.
This is because foreigners as well as the Igbos across the globe travel back to Arondizuogu to witness and partake in this event.
Brotherhood: The Ikeji promotes a sense of connectedness and reunion among the people of Arondizuogu, which extends to their neighbours. It is one of the means of getting to meet relatives and close friends.
Partaking in this festival exposes one to the rich cultural heritage and values of the Izuogu people and Igbo people in general.
Different dance groups with colourful costumes showcase their best dance steps at the festivity. Masquerade displays and comic acts also add colour to the event.
Because festivals are vibrant part of every culture, the Ikeji festival promotes the cultural continuity of the Arondizuogu people and rekindles their values each time it is celebrated.
Nwachineke Onyeke Chekwube reporting, Obinwannem news writer/October 21, 2021