Arochukwu: Ikeji Festival by Victory Udochukwu Ferdinard…Part 1
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Arochukwu: Ikeji Festival by Victory Udochukwu Ferdinard…Part 1

Ikeji is the time people give thanks to gods of the land, for protecting each family and ask the gods for good harvest and the progress of everyone in the land. Ikeji is celebrated for four market days: Orie, Eke, Afor and Nkwo, according to the Igbo land calendar.

Ikeji festival is a cultural event which started when the Arondizuogu people as a village turned it into the celebration of new yam festival. Ikeji festival originated from Arochukwu, the mother of Arondizuogu. They have so many traditions, customs and cultures in common.

Ikeji festival in Arondizuogu is not celebrated as a new yam festival unlike in Arochukwu where it is celebrated as a new yam festival sometime around September every year. But it was borrowed by Arondizuogu to thank the gods of the land for protection and provision.

From time immemorial, it has been celebrated once in a year, and it is the biggest celebration in Arondizuogu. People prefer Ikeji than Christmas. The festival is celebrated around April immediately after Easter celebration.

The date of the festival is decided by the head of the cultural custodians called the Iheme people. They are people from Arondizuogu. Arondizuogu village is being addressed in full as “Izuogu na Iheme” So the Ihemes’ are the custodian of the ikeji festival. They are the people that fix the date and circulate the information to their village and neighbouring villages.

At their kings palace named Eze Kosoko, each of the 32 villages which made up Arondizuogu is expected to send a delegate to Ndi Aniche village, who are the custodians to hear the date which is decided by them and pass on information to their various villages. On that day, a small Ikeji festival, a small celebration held as a result of the happy moment of fixing the dates for the big Ikeji festival.
The small festival is celebrated at Aniche Iheme. It is organized to celebrate the fixing of the date, eight days before the real feast. Nobody is allowed to go to the farm. That’s the time women clean their houses. Ikeji is the time people give thanks to gods of the land, for protecting each family and ask the gods for good harvest and the progress of everyone in the land. Ikeji is celebrated for four market days: Orie, Eke, Afor and Nkwo, according to the Igbo land calendar.

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