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Why New yam is celebrated on its arrival

The important of new yam festival…

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The New Yam Festival popularly known as “Orureshi, Iwa ji, Iri ji, Ike ji, or Otute (depending on dialect) is an annual cultural festival by the Igbo people usually held at the end of the rainy season in early August to October every year.Traditions that will amaze you within Africa.

ORIGINS
The New Yam Festival marks the changing of the seasons, which people in all parts of the world have honored since ancient times. Many cultures divided the year into two seasons, summer and winter, and marked these points of the year at or near the summer and winter solstices, during which light and warmth began to increase and decrease, respectively. In pre-industrial times, humans survived through hunting, gathering, and agricultural practices, which depend on the natural cycle of seasons, according to the climate in the region of the world in which they lived. Thus, they created rituals to help ensure enough rain and sun in the spring and summer so crops would grow to fruition at harvest time, which was, in turn, duly celebrated. Vestiges of many of these ancient practices are thought to have survived in festivals still celebrated around seasonal themes.

Why is it so important?

The myth of Ahiajoku is reenacted during the New Yam Festival each year. Each householder places four or eight new yams on the ground near a shrine. After saying some prayers, he cuts small portions off each end of the yams to symbolize the sacrifice of Ahiajoku. The yams are then cooked with palm oil, water, and chicken to make a dish that symbolizes the body and blood of Ahiajoku. The Igbo people consider the yam to be so sacred that at one time, anyone caught stealing it would be put to death. Today, such thieves are banished..http://www.igbounionfinland.com/significance-of-new-yam-festival-in-igbo-society-of-nigeria

The Yoruba people celebrate the New Yam Festival, known to them as Eje, for two days around the time of the harvest. They fast, give thanks for the harvest, and carry out special DIVINATION RITES to determine the fate of the community, and particularly its crops, in the coming year. Most of the festival activities take place in a sacred grove and at a sacred shrine, both of which are purified for the occasion. There are very specific rules governing how the new yams must be presented to the appropriate religious authorities.
Facts you should know about the new yam festival-

1. Nigeria is by far the world’s largest producer of yam accounting for over 70% of the world’s production, making Nigeria the “Yam Lord” of the world. Nigeria, with its over 250 ethnic groups and distinct languages and despite its diverse culture share similarities especially when it comes to food.

2. Yam should in truth be Nigeria’s national food; as in, it should be served at state banquets in the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Why? Because yam is grown all over Nigeria, from Abuja to Benue to Bayelsa to Onitsha to Ondo to name a few. Yam is indeed the universal food language all of us Nigerians understand. The importance and popularity of yam in our diet cannot be over emphasized.

3. Ima Ji, Obiora, Ofala, Leboku or Orureshi)  is celebrated almost all over Nigeria in various ways. The festival is celebrated at different times within the various ethnic groups and communities both at home in Nigeria and in diaspora from August until October every year. The New Yam Festival is a celebration of the harvest, the thanksgiving, the culmination of a year and the start of another.

4. Die hard traditionalists will not touch new yam until after the New Yam Festival. Once the new yam is out, food vendors can often be seen labeling dishes containing new yam “new yam and beans” or “yamarita with new yam” “asaro with new yam” for example so that customers who are waiting till after the New Yam Festival in their various ethnic groups can just walk on by and eat something else. This is particularly common among chiefs and titled men and women.

5. In some parts of the country, during the period of the New Yam festival, some events including burials cannot be held until after the period of celebrations which could be as little as one day and up to two months.

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