Blissful Traditional Religious Activities in Ebirland
The Traditional Religious Activities in Ebiraland: Religion is defined as the belief we all humans have in the existence of a supernaturalism ruling power, the creator and controller of the whole world, who has given to man a spiritual nature that continues to exist after the death of the body, (Ref. A.S. Hornby’s Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary).
Ebira Traditional Religion as Acclaimed Monotheistic Religion
The Ebira Traditional Religion, to some extent, fits into the confines of the above dictionary definition. The Ebira word for the Almighty God is ‘OHOMORIHI’, which is the shortened form of the word ‘Ohionoorihi’ which means “the Great that makes rains’: rains being the sustainer of all creatures in the universe.
Other Ebira praise names of God such as ‘Ovarakadosi’, ‘Okwnumohuru’, Okwonumatito’, ‘Ikokokowukow’!” ‘Odimiri’, ‘Ogodogodo onuuvoza ometuv etc. all signifying the un-parallel greatness of the Almighty Allah. The Ebira traditional mode of worship, which therefore beginnings with all and even more of the above praise names claims to be a monotheistic religion.
The problem of the Ebira traditional religious practices is rooted in the search for the messenger of this ALMIGHTY GOD. The essential belief is that no human can even possess the qualifications to be regarded as his messenger. This belief, therefore, brought the idea that it is only after death the soul is closest to God, in purity.
This brought about the concept of ‘Ori’, who Can cynically be regarded as his angel and messenger. ‘Ori’; according to Ebira oral tradition ‘Ori’ is the manifestation of the departed spirit or soul of a great spiritual leader, whose life on earth has been so great, and his works, assistance, and protection, are believed to continue even after his or her death.
All that is required for those he Or she has left behind is to perform some form of sacrifice to invite the ghost of this departed soul and all the necessary assistance or protection will be made available to the living ones from God through him or her. A belief dating back to the days of Apa Jukun Kingdom where Ba’Apa the Jukun Ancestral Father was deified at Bepi (now called Kwararafa by the Hausas); sequel to the 1400 AD Migration.
The Search for a Messenger of God
Traditional Religion in Ebiraland, on this belief, specially designates a place for the purpose of worship and calls it ‘ori’. This concept is even brought closer to the individual household in the form of ‘Ete—ohoje’. The former is worshipped periodically, as may be decided by the oracles. And in the case of ‘ori’, fixed items are used for the sacrifice while the sacrifice of ‘Eteohoje’ ranges from ‘ohine’, which is just a little palm oil mixed with small salt to taste.
After necessary incantations and pouring of libations on the designated spot, the rest is licked by each member of the family. Other items of sacrifice could even involve the slaughtering of he—goats, she-goats, cocks, hens, etc. depending on the nature of the request, the mode of worship is characterized by the use of traditional kola, ‘irevuoboro’ .
It is usually put inside a calabash of cold water; the cold water symbolizes peace and incantations are recited while holding the kola in the right hand and repeatedly it is dipped into the cold water until all incantations have been completed. The Kola is split into lobes and after further rituals,
The part of This Kola is either placed on the spot or the whole kola is shared among ‘worshippers, depending on how the kola wants itself shared or treated. Before this is decided, the lobes are poured down from which special oracular interpretations are made. Only people with the gifted supernatural can do this. The introductory model of worship is always preceded by the following:
“Ohomorihi irevuyi (3 times);
Ete’izenani irevuyi (3 times);
Ori …… irevuyi (3 times).
“Almighty God”, this is kola (3 times);
‘The Earth of this place, this is kola (3 times);
‘The spirit of ……(insert appropriate
name)’, this is kola (3 times).
A special request from God then follows these incantations. And from the above order, it is believed according to Ebira traditions, that the Earth on which the sacrifice is made will transmit the request through the invited spirit who will in turn take the message to the Almighty God. Other items for sacrifice are treated in the same hierarchical order. After all, the sacrifices are done, the kola is used to determine whether or not the sacrifices have been accepted.
It is worth mentioning that following the above compulsory incantations, the names of the ancestors of the particular clans involved in this ritual sacrifice are called in their hierarchical order too. While ‘Ori’; is usually designated at a place on the outskirts of the settlement area ‘Ete ohoje’ is usually designated at the center of the courtyard of the family compound. This center is usually marked by a special tree such as ‘ogisi’ or ‘Osinkara’; the latter produces lovely fruits (usually yellow when fully ripe).
Surrounding the tree, which usually survives for generations, are various items and remains of bones of sacrificial animals, etc. The family worshippers, led by ‘Adohoje’ presides over the rituals while others say (Amin) at intervals of the incantations. No image is carved for worship in Ebiraland.
The Ebira traditional religion is therefore not polytheism but monotheism with special reference to the souls or spirits of the departed ancestors; whose purities make it possible for them to transmit the request of the living to the Almighty God while God is believed to answer their request, on behalf of the living, faster than if the living ones make the request directly to God.
This is explained by the fact that human beings are in perpetual sins. And before the advent of Christianity and Islam, virtually every compound in Ebiraland had ‘Ete ohoje for traditional worshiper This is very rare today. From the foregoing, the ‘Eku festivals in Ebiraland can only be regarded as part of our culture, not traditional religion.
And to make it clean and devoid of paganism certain rituals, brought about by excessive rivalry and competitions, should be eliminated to bring back the original flavours of the festivals as instituted by our ancestors.