The mystery behind this momentous festival can be traced to the origin of the ancient town of Osogbo, which is also the capital of Osun state, Nigeria. If our foot can no more plod back into the good old days, today history has it painted. IT all started with the covenant between their ancestor, Oba Gbadewolu Laroye, and the goddess of Osun river, as an appeasement for the damages he caused to her indigo dye, when he was craving for new settlement, in the Osun sacred groove which is about 120 acres of land, in size.
Osun which could simply be implied to as “Orisun”, meaning, “the source”, was found to be a friendly and an accommodating river with a caring goddess (who also can be credited as a name giver, for calling the first king, Oba Gbadewolu Laroye as the “Oso-igbo”, meaning, “Wizard of the forest”, this, which birthed the name Osogbo, till today), as she didn’t just accept the appeasement conferred to her, but also blessed their stay and promised to be an helper, healer, deliverer and a giver of children to those that cry and believe in her.
The benefits that the people of Osogbo get from this annual celebration socially, culturally, mentally, morally, financially and spiritually makes them hold to what their forefathers have put in their hands since time immemorial. The Osun Osogbo sacred groove was recognized by UNESCO as the World Heritage Site, in 2005, and the light behind this could be mapped to how believers and lover of culture and tourist come from all parts of the world, to the South-west of Nigeria, in order to share from the blessings, exposure and fun of the celebration.
This African advancing cultural festival is a program of two weeks, which holds every August. The event starts with cleansing of the entire town traditionally, called “Iwopopo”, preceding lighting of the said 500 years old sixteen points lamp, “Atupa Oloju merindinlogun” in the next three days, followed by “Iboriade”, a rite that consists gathering the crowns of past rulers, “Ataojas” of Osogbo town for blessing, and it’s being led by the incumbent Ataoja. Having done the necessary rites compasses the Arugbá “a calabash bearer”, who must be a virgin maiden chosen by Yeye Osun and the committee of priestesses to carry the people’s age-long prayers with costumes to be used in the calabash, as Osun devotees follow her, in white garment.
Despite being traditional, the story of Osun Osogbo will be half-detailed without citing the efforts of a Austrian woman, Suzan Wenger, natively known as “Iwinfunmi Adunni Olorisa”, who developed interest in becoming a priestess and a custodian that began soliciting for the groove before she died at 93, in Osogbo, 2009. Truly, Osun Osogbo festival is one of the most outstanding cultural heritage that promotes Yoruba, Nigeria and Africa, to the world.