By Osaigbovo Iguobaro
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II has rounded-off this year’s Ugie-Odudua festival with a rare display of royalty and splendor at the Ugha-Ehengbuda’s palace ground in Benin City, Edo State Capital.
Experts on the tradition said the festival was founded during the reign of Oba Esigie at about 1504 AD, the 14-Day (indoor and outdoor) festival, which marked the remembrance of the return of Oranmiyan, son of Odudua to his ancestral land of Benin kingdom.
The annual Ugie-Ododua better known as Ugie-Ovia at the Benin palace, is meant to ward-off evil, ‘untimely deaths’, usher-in peace, progress and blessings into the ancient City of Benin.
The seven sacred masquerades which represented seven spirits and deities, conveyed different meaning in company of the Osa and Osuan of Benin kingdom, Chief John Usen and Chief Ambrose Osuan with the Oba of Benin who exhibited a grand cultural dexterity in his dance steps.
The moment of spiritual rejuvenation, stunned spectators and guests at the colourful ceremony for hours, amidst fluctuations of weather conditions before the sun finally set at dusk Tuesday evening to reenact the ancient festival of beads, also known as Ugie-Ivie in Edo Language.
The yearly festival considered as festival of blessing, is marked by the Benin people, was activated by Oba Ewuare II, a rare cultural symbolism that has never been for over 500 years.
Ogbelaka Royal drummers supplied the needed impetus and rhythm for the dances.
The Benin Crown Prince, Ezelekhae Ewuare II, the Oloi and two other Queens, members of the Benin Royal family as well as heads of Benin deities also paid tributes to the monarch who was the cynosure at the event.
Also, youth leaders across Communities which are administered by Dukes and Priests and Priestesses in Benin Kingdom, were among the roll call of Guests including Government functionaries at the event.
The 7th day which symboslises the departure of the seven sacred masquerades to the world beyond, also featured intense prayer of fruitfulness and fortification of Benin to God and ancestors by the monarch, Oba Ewuare II.