FEATURES OF THE FESTIVAL
1. Incitation into the Mmonwu society : The incitation is often expensive, it takes place in the month of September and is been conducted by elders. The Ekulu Mmonwu society is constituted by the elders and they always prepares themselves for the annual celebration and life time ceremony for the youths. During the preparation they abstain from any type of sexual relationship, injustice and lies. While most of them also abstain from themselves from food cooked by woman. From the above, the elders also fast and pray for those to be initiated so that they will be true patriots who would enhance the spirit of the Aro man-ship.
2. Masquerading or "Oso Mmonwo": This is the most interesting part of the festival; it takes place in two days on Afor and Nkwo market days. It is the greatest period of masquerade performance in Arondizuogu. On that day people move around in the whole town in search of masquerade for their entertainment.
3. The masquerade perform during the festival each with its own function, first is the "Mgbadike" father of the masked spirit, "Aburuja" the mother of masked spirit and their son "Ojionu" others are "Okwo mma azuzu". The masquerades are accompanied by flute player (Onye Oja) who transmits spiritual messages to the masked spirits. Also accompanied by the masquerade is the praise singer called "Okwo mkpokpo" he does not use instrument for role except his excellent voice.
4. Sacrifices before the festival : Aro man makes sacrifices in order to balance the gap between him and chukwu, the father of a family or the eldest men in the kindred is normally entrusted with the responsibility of promoting the rites of Ikeji. He gathers all Ndichies in form of carved symbolic scared woods and pours liberation on them while calling upon all the ancestors of the kindred to come and accept kola. Ikeji festival holds a lot of potentials for the burgeoning tourism industry. Tourists are welcome to visit these festival and they have rich culture of hospitality. The festival is attractive, well organized and it varies from the nature and that forms an amalgam of attraction for the visiting tourist.
This Ikeji festival, which holds in the ancestral homeland of Arondizuogu, is usually a forum to bring back the sons and daughters of the land from within and in the Diaspora. The festival has survived high measures of antagonism and has come to be accepted as an intangible cultural heritage, worthy of preservation.
The importance of this festival lies in the fact that organizing the festival is vested on the traditional council, which schedules and hands over to the Arondizuogu Patriotic Unions, and in turn, they promote and organize the event.
This post was originally published on Talk Of Tourism.