Osun Festival: Amazing facts about 'Arugba', the calabash-carrying votary virgin

Osun Festival: Amazing facts about ‘Arugba’, the calabash-carrying votary virgin

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Osun Festival which kick-off a few weeks ago climaxed with the procession of maiden calabash bearer (Arugba), the Ataoja, Osun adherents and culture enthusiasts to the ancient groove on Friday.

The international festival is a five-day event usually celebrated in August, attracting tourists within and outside the country swarming the streets of Osogbo to join the annual rites, with thousands escorting the maiden calabash bearer to the shrine to show gratitude to the Osun goddess.

In this article, TRIBUNE ONLINE highlights some amazing facts you should know about the Osun Calabash carrier.

Who is Arugba?

Arugba is an Osun calabash-carrying votary virgin, which is a traditional allegory of the Virgin Mary. The calabash contains sacrifices intended to be made in her honour as offerings to the Osun goddess, or river. The Arugba is now worshipped as a goddess rather than just a virgin maid, and when she carries the calabash and leads the crowd to the river, people pray to her and blame all of their problems on her.

The mystic calabash

According to our findings, the mystic calabash being carried by the calabash bearer is thought to have been given to the Osogbo forefathers by the goddess Osun, who stipulated that a royal virgin lady must transport it to the grove on the festival day. The Arugba is closely watched by the Olose (also known as Whip Boys) as she travels to and from the grove because she must avoid stepping on a stone or stump, as this would send the wrong message to the populace.

Rituals

One of the main attractions of the Osun-Osogbo festival is a virgin votary carrying a calabash on her head, bearing the offerings that would be made in order to please and worship the goddess. People throw their concerns at her and offer prayers as she leads the procession to the river because they recognise her as a goddess-representative. The Arugba’s hitch-free journey from the palace to the groove is therefore crucial to the festival’s success.

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