The Udiroko festival celebrated annually in Ado Ekiti is not fetish, but an avenue to unite Ado-Ekiti people across the globe, Oba Adeyemo Adejugbe Aladesanmi III, the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, said on Wednesday.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that Udiroko Festival was established around 1310 AD during the reign of Oba Awamaro, the first Ewi of the present day of Ado-Ekiti.
It marks the first day of the year for the town’s inhabitants; it is usually a day people set aside to give thanks to their creator.
The name Udiroko was derived from the venue of the festival, which was beneath the big Iroko tree at Ewi’s Palace.
According to Aladesanmi III, the festival is a cultural celebration to showcase the historical, cultural and traditional potential of Ado-Ekiti people as a collective entity.
He said indigenes of Ado-Ekiti also use the opportunity to pray for themselves and the town for remarkable achievements recorded over the years.
“The festival has nothing to do with rituals, fetishism and idolism, as it usually starts with Jumat Service on Friday which immediately precedes the first day event of the week-long celebrations.
“It ends with Church thanksgiving service, and it is usually rotated annually among the various Churches in Ado-Ekiti.
“It is appropriate to say that there is nothing fetish or idolatry about Udiroko Festival.
“These aspects of the annual festival which start and end in prayers in the houses of God clearly indicate that the festival is not fetish by any standard and not shrouded in secrecy.
“Theme of the festival is: ‘Enforcing and Sustaining the Solidity of our History, Culture and Tradition.’’
“ Through this festival, we constantly celebrate our ancient past and showcase the rich cultural heritage of Ado people in ways that give currency to the past and precisely situate the present for the productive future,’’ he said.
The monarch said that Udiroko is a euphemistic expression of the significance of the first meeting of the Ado-Ekiti people under the Iroko tree to celebrate the founding of Ado Kingdom.
Aladesanmi III said this was under the kingship of the Ewi, who thereafter, gave a royal proclamation of the first gathering under the Iroko tree as the first day in the Ado-Ekiti calendar year.
“It is our hope that from now on, the Udiroko Festival will gain further international recognition that would propel it amidst its cultural peers in other kingdoms and climes,’’ he said.
Earlier, Mr Wale Ojo-Lanre, the Director-General, Ekiti State Council for Arts and Culture, said the state government had decided to partner Ado-Ekiti people to rebrand the festival, globalise its celebration and seek marketers for the festival.
Ojo-Lanre said this was to make the festival become self-sustaining and involve Ado-Ekiti indigenes in the diaspora, as well as those outside the shores of Ekiti.
“We have noticed the energy and vigour with which the Ewi and the people of Ado prepare and celebrate Udiroko annually,’’ he said.
Edited by Vivian Ihechu/Olagoke Olatoye