ARAN-ORIN AND HER EGUNGUN FESTIVALS

ARAN-ORIN AND HER EGUNGUN FESTIVALS

 


                                         

Aran-Orin is a close knitted community in Irepodun Local Government of Kwara state, a close community to Omu - Aran, the headquarter of Irepodun LG of Kwara State and the location for Landmark University Omu-Aran. Other towns in close proximity to Aran-Orin include: Ipetu, Rore, Erinmope, Ilale and Ora in Osun state which means that Aran-orin also shares boundary with Osun state.

Aran-Orin with other two places bearing Aran; Omu-Aran and Arandun are all Igbomina/Igboona speaking communities, one of the dialects of Yoruba language which makes them distinct from other Yoruba speakers.

As it is a common phenomenon for history to be passed down through oral tradition which can adversely affect the correcteness of such history so also, writing a brief history of Aran-Orin might be an Herculean labour but one that can be possible with the help of many oral sources.

There are, therefore, various tales about the source of the people of Aran-Orin. One source has opined that Aran-Orin originated from Ile-Ife in Osun State and that the compound from where they originated is called Ile Jaaran while another opinion was that Aran people originated from Oyo judging from the use of their tribal marks, the Egungun festival that is common in Aran-Orin and also the use of traditional drums like dundun, sekere, bata, etc.

However, history could deduce that the Aran people arrived Igbomina land before 1700AD and this would mean that  they must have left Ife much earlier and on their sojourn must have settled briefly at Oyo before continuing their journey. This will justify the Aran people use of tribal marks, traditional drums and the Egungun festival, these all were picked up from their interactions with various commuities especially the Oyo people along their journey.

Egungun festival in Aran-Orin popularly known as Odun Egungun is a festival celebrated once in two years by the children of the land far and near in reference and worship of the spirits of departed ancestors who Yorubas believe periodically revisit the human community for blessing, therefore, it is a common sight to see Egungun showering blessings and prayers on the people of the community.

In Yoruba religion, the Egungun festivals in honour of the dead serve as a means of assuring their ancestors a place among the living, they also believe the ancestors have the responsibility to ensuring the living uphold the culture and ethical standards of the past generations of their town and family.

As a result of this, there is a family elder that presides over the ancestral rites in family situations and in matters that deal with the whole communities, Egungun priests who have been trained in ancestral communication and funerary rites are assigned to invoke and bring out the ancestors. Through drumming, dancing and some others gimmicks, the Egungun robed performers are believed to become possessed by the spirits of the ancestors and then spiritually clean the community, give messages or warnings and blessings to the assembled audience.

Egungun meaning masquerade or masked, costumed figure are of different classifications depending on the Yoruba community, the two most prominent ones at Aran-Orin are Eegun Elewe and  Eegun Paaka.

Eegun Elewe in Aran-Orin are the highly rated Egungun which are  known by their colourful costumes and their acrobatic dance steps accompanied with various traditional drums like bata, talking drums, etc, performed at the market square to entertain the people of the community. Women are prohibited to come to a close range of Eegun Elewe as it is believed that women carried some special power.

Worthy of mention as part of the costume of Eegun Elewe is the use of ankle beads and bells. These tiny bells are woven around the ankle to jingle as the Eegun moves and also in rhythm to the beats of the drum.

Paaka as commonly called is another prominent Eegun in Aran-Orin, although not as highly rated as Eegun Elewe as these ones are known as the Eegun that scare children including adults. One of the telltales of Eegun Paaka is the long cane being held by these Eegun which they use to scare people of the community, some would even go to the extent of beating anyone along their path. The idea behind this action remains a mystery to me, no one has been able to justify the reason why Paaka are known for beating the ones they are meant to entertain.

There are some other Egungun that come out at certain times and season of the year, some at will and some unannouced. There are a number of events that could trigger this, ranging from danger or the departing of the ruling king. Going down memory lane, on 27th December 2001, I got to know about the death of the late Oba Joseph Olaiya Fakayode Ewu Olaku II by the presence of a number of Egungun in different costumes shouting and wailing.

I would later be told that that is one way to accompany the spirit of the departed king, but was it scary? Yes!

Conclusively, Egungun festival is a festival that is celebrated in Aran-Orin and has been passed successively down to generations. The festival goes on for days, sometimes, for a period of two week to strengthen the bonds that unite families with departed ancestors. It is believed to primarily unite the people of the community together regardless of their religious beliefs.

 

 

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