The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, on Tuesday concluded the first public performance of Ugie-Ododuwa ceremony at the sacred Ugha-Ehengbuda axis of the palace ground in Benin.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the climax of the “outdoor spiritual ceremony” was when the Oba joined seven masqueraders in their stylish dance steps, as the Ogbelaka Royal drummers rendered spiritual incantations.
The outdoor ceremony which attracted many, especially the youth, started on May 4.
The Oba’s acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr Victor Ogiemwanre, noted that the ceremony is in commemoration of the return of Oranmiyan, the son of Ododuwa, to his ancestral land of Benin.
Ogiemwanre said the ceremony is also used to thank God, ancestors as well as ‘spirits’ of the community for Oba Ewuare’s successful ascension to the throne of his forbearers.
“The spiritual rites started during the reign of Oba Esigie at about 1504 AD lasts for 14 days.
“The first seven days are indoor activities, while the last seven days are outdoors, where the seven masqueraders, all play significant roles.
“The masqueraders danced to the spiritual renditions by the Ogbelaka Royal drummers, offering prayers,” he said.
According to him, the ceremony has many benefits, as it also “purifies and sanctifies” the community.
Ogiemwanre said the ceremony also wards off evil, hostility, war, famine, untimely deaths while ushering in peace, tranquillity, fertility, progress and development.
NAN reports that the ceremony is one of the greatest ceremonies in the Benin kingdom and is not celebrated like other regular ceremonies.
The seven masquerades which represent deities, dance and pray for the well-being of the Oba, development, among others, from the first day to the last day of the ceremony.
In attendance at this year’s ceremony were the wives of the Oba, palace chiefs and other titled chiefs.
Others were Speaker, Edo House of Assembly, Mr Marcus Onobun, and a former deputy governor of the Edo, Mr Pius Odubu.