Odwira is a Festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Akuapem in the Eastern Region (Apue Mantam) of the country. They are mostly Akans.
The Purpose and History
is an Akan word which means purification. The festival is therefore a period of purification and cleansing. Before the celebration of the actual festival a period of forty days is declared for meditation and rest. This period is known as"Adaabutuw".
During Adaabutuw all the ancestors are expected to rest and are not to be disturbed in any way. Peace and calm is expected to prevail in the whole traditional area and therefore, a ban is place on the making of noise. Activities such as singing, drumming and dancing are disallowed. Funeral celebrations are allowed to be organised for the deceased only when the ban period is over.
All those who have to perform any religious function during the festival period must enter into meditation. The meditation period enable the participants to prepare themselves spiritually; so that they can perform their religious duties well. The celebration period for is one week. It mostly starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. Special rituals are performed on each day.
Mode of Celebration
First day, which is mostly Mondays. The day is set aside for clearing the path leading to the royal mausoleum. The purpose of which is to enable the ancestors who are also expected to ioin in the celebration to travel home safely.
Second day (Tuesday.) Before the celebration of the Festival, it is a taboo for any Akuapem citizen to eat any new yam the people have harvested from their farms. The ban on the eating of the new yam is lifted on the Tuesday. Another important activity for this day is the fetching of the sacred ’ symbol from the royal Mausoleum.
This is done early in the morning by the’Adumhene’(Chief xecutioner) and ’Abrafo’(State executioner.) They enter the mausoleum with a sheep and a drink. They bring the which is in the form of a prepared sacred mixture and present it to the ’Okuapehene’ (Paramount Chief of Akuapem) in the afternoon. After the preparation the ban on singing, drumming and dancing and all forms of noise making is lifted. Drumming and dancing immediately start at the Chiefs palace.
Wednesday (third day). On this day, relatives especially those who died during the past year are remembered. The day is characterised by wailing drinking and drumming. People wear mourning cloths and fast throughout the day. The chief sits in the state and receives condolence and greetings from the people. During the later day, the chief in turn goes round to greet and offer condolence to all stool occupants or his sub-chiefs.
The Thursday is declared as the feasting day. With this, delicious meals are prepared in almost every house. The people usually move freely, visit any home including the palace of the chief to eat. The Ancestors also participate in the feast. Bowls of mashed yam (some mixed with palm oil) and boiled eggs are carried in a procession from the Chiefs palace to the Ancestors at a shrine called "Nsorem". It is believed that, most of the ancestors were buried at this place.
Other most interesting and for that matter important ceremony takes place in the evening, after nightfall. The Black stools are taken to the stream forthe ceremonial cleansing. The purification which gives the festival its name "" is then performed.
The ritual is a symbol of the cleansing of the traditional area and the people. This is one of the few occasions when the Black Stools are taken out of the Stool room. Before the stools are taken out, the gong gong is beaten to warn people to stay indoors. This is so because, it is a taboo for anybody to see the Black Stools. The end of the ceremony is marked by the firing of musketry. After, the chiefs go to the stool room to renew their allegiance to the paramount stool.
On Friday, the festival is crowned with a grand durbar of chiefs. The ceremony takes place usually in the afternoon. The Okuapehene, the Queenmother and senior chiefs of Akuapem traditional area car¬ried in state palanquins in a procession through the principal streets of Akropong.
They are mostly accompanied by drumming, dancing, firing of musketry (rifle) and a lot of merrymaking. At the grand durbar, the Senior State Linguist pours libation forthe prosperity of the state.