The National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO) joined other stakeholders and pilgrims to witness the electrifying closing ceremony of the internationally-acclaimed Osun Osogbo festival, on Friday, August 21, 2013.
The closing ceremony, which was preceded by a royal reception at the palace of the Ataoja of Osogbo, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji Olanipekun Larooye II, who is the festival custodian, started with a procession that moved to the Osun grove, where the event reached its climax.
The event witnessed procession of various groups such as Iyalojas, the Iwarefas, herbalists, and the Osun priestess (Iya Osun); and the high point was the entry of the Votary Maid (Arugba) to the grove; at a point, a devotee in her white Osun regalia was possessed by the Osun Osogbo spirit, struggling and wriggling her body, and she was held down by other devotees.
In his address, the Executive Governor of Osun state, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, said he was happy to participate in the event, and promised to invest aggressively in infrastructure development at the grove to make it more convenient for pilgrims, tourists and other participants.
He announced that by the next festival, he was expecting about 4000 international tourists and pilgrims, who would have the opportunity to travel by air, as an airport proposed to be built by his government would have been ready then.
The carnival-like ceremony also witnessed stilt dancers, pulsating drumbeats, sporadic gunshots, traditional ceremonies and merchandisers of religious ornaments.
The entourage of the governor included the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Grace Laoye-Tomori and several commissioners, while the Executive Secretary, NICO, Dr. Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma, was represented at the ceremony by the Zonal Head of the NICO South-West, Mr. Ohi Ojo, in an event that also witnessed the traditional paying of obeisance to the Ataoja of Osogbo by various traditional groups in the town.