Whether you’re from Abia State or not, you’ve probably heard of Abia State festivals. This piece highlights some of the famous festivals in Abia State and all you should know about the state’s festivities.
Festivals in Abia State – An Introduction
Abia State is one of the five states in the southeast geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
The state came out from the old Imo State in 1991 and has grown from strength to strength since then.
Abians have distinct cultural heritage, which they don’t fail to showcase at the slightest opportunity.
The people take pride in their cultural heritage, as seen in their numerous food choices, customs, and festivals.
Their ceremonial functions are usually full of lovely displays that tell of the state’s rich history.
These functions include the festivals held at various times of the year.
Some of these festivals are celebrated by people across the state, while some are only celebrated in specific communities.
Read along as we discuss some popular festivals in Abia State.
Popular Festivals in Abia State
Ugwuabia (Pride of Abia) Festival in Abia State
This festival is famous in every part of the state.
It is a grassroots festival or carnival in Abia State, where people from all the local government areas send representatives.
Each group showcases the rich cultural heritage of the area they represent.
All these take place in a centrally organized carnival, usually attended by dignitaries from various parts of the state.
The Ugwu Abia cultural festival is the first of its kind in Nigeria.
It aims to revive and promote the Abia state culture and tradition and the state’s tourism potentials.
The festival enhances oneness and unity among the various LGAs and people in the state.
It encourages peace and harmony and fosters social stability.
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Iwaji Festival (New Yam Festival)
This is also called the New Yam Festival.
It is an annual event and unarguably one of the most popular festivals in Igboland.
It is mostly celebrated at the grassroots level or centrally, and the celebration comes with lots of preparation and fanfare.
The Iwaji festival occurs around early August, towards the end of the rainy season, just after the harvest.
The first tubers of yam harvest are prepared in celebration and thanksgiving to the land’s deities for a fruitful harvest.
Before the official celebration, the people perform certain rituals according to the customs and traditions of the locality.
The traditional ruler or the oldest person around usually performs the ceremony.
As mediators between their deities and the villagers, the chief celebrant dips a piece of the roasted yam into a bowl of palm oil and eats it.
After some other elders might have taken a bite, the rest of the people then proceed with eating.
Due to the influx of diverse religious beliefs, certain aspects of this festival are scrapped to accommodate everyone.
Regardless of how each person celebrates, it is always a day of much festivities and lots of displays.
Iwaji, Iri Ji or Ike Ji – depending on the dialect, is one of the pride of not just indigenes of Abia State, but also every Igbo person.
Many people know about the Ekpe festival. But then, the festival is popular amongst people from Umuahia.
The festival has been in existence for hundreds of years, making it one of the oldest festivals in Abia State.
The Ekpe festival occurs annually in January as a means of kick-starting the New Year.
It’s one of the popular Igbo festivals before colonization and rates high amongst culture lovers.
The festival involves the appearance of various masquerades complemented by cultural dance performances.
During the festivals, there are performances by a group of masked dancers.
Some of the masks, usually the older masks, have horns and teeth.
The climax of the festival is the beheading of a goat at a strike, by the Ekpe masquerade.
While many mysteries surround the masked figures, women and non-members of the Ekpe group, are forbidden to make any contact with them.
Final words on Festivals in Abia State
Abians love their culture and so express this in many ways.
These festivals celebrated in almost all parts of the state.
There are many more festivals people within particular towns and kindreds celebrate.
Some of these festivals include; Ahia Egwu, Onunu Ji, and Mgbelu Umunnekwu Cultural festival.
No matter where you are in Abia state, you sure want to witness these festivals.
Have you witnessed any of these festivals in Abia state?
Tell us about your experience in the comment section.
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