NEW YAM FESTIVAL OF IN IGBOLAND
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New Yam Festival is a thanksgiving festival that proceeds the consumption of the yam crop. It is one of the greatest cultural festivals in Igboland. Igbo people are known for their age-long tradition of celebrating the arrival of the new yam. The New Yam festival in Igboland are known with names such as Emume Iri Ji Ọhụrụ, Iwa Ji, Ife Ji Oku, Ike Ji, Ahajioku, etc. depending on the community’s dialect. The New Yam Festival is an annual cultural festival held during the raining season between the months of August to October for some communities.
The Iri Ji Ọhụrụ usually takes places at the beginning of each harvesting season to thank gods or God for a bountiful harvests. Yam among the Igbo people is considered as the king of all crops. It stands for manliness, and a person who could feed his family on yam from one harvest to another is a very great man indeed (Achebe, 1958).
The Iri Ji Ọhụrụ festival is said to be the most prominent traditional festival as it signals the beginning of harvest and consumption of the chief crop. In a community, the Iri Ji Ọhụrụ ceremony is performed by the royal father. Big tubers of yams are roasted and present to public glare before the traditional ruler along with a bowl of palm oil garnished with pepper and ụgba. A prayer of thanksgiving is offered to God/gods for a fruitful harvest by the royal father; after which he (the royal father) cut a piece of the roasted yam, dipped it into the palm oil and ate. This act is followed by a jubilation by the people. Thereafter, the traditional titled men and others took turns to savour the new yam.
After this ceremony, the indigenes of the community can then proceed to harvest and consume new yams, and sell new yams in the community markets. It was a taboo during the olden days for any indigene of a community to eat new yam before the Iri Ji Ọhụrụ ceremony of the community is performed.
Achebe, C. (1958). Things Fall Apart. London: Heinemann Educational Books.
Ujumadu, V., Nkwopara, C., Okonkwo N, & Agbo, D. (2017). New Yam: A phenomenal festival in Igboland. Retrieved from www.vanguardngr.com/2017/08/new-yam-phenonal-festival-igboland/amp/