Many women in the ancient town of Ile-Ife remained indoors on Saturday as the annual Oro festival entered its second day.
Although a palace source told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on condition of anonymity that the festival had nothing to do with the rumoured death of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, the women believed otherwise.
The Nigerian media had been agog with the news of the death of the Ooni, but was vehemently denied by the traditional council of the ancient town.
The commencement of Oro festival on Friday night, which is to last seven days, further fueled speculations and anxiety about the monarch’s demise.
Oro is a deity worshipped across Yoruba land, which forbids women from going out at night during the period of the festival.
Although women were only forbidden to go out at night during the traditional festival, some women told NAN that it was better to be on the safe side by staying indoors during the period than to be caught and probably used as sacrifice.
Mrs Rebecca Olaide, a market woman, said she would remain indoors to avoid any unexpected circumstance.
Olaide said she had asked her eldest son to help her to manage her business until the festival was over.
Another woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she had restricted her movement because of the Oro festival.
She said the Oro festival might not be unconnected with the reported demise of the monarch.
Another lfe resident who simply identified herself as Sade, said she had decided to remain within her vicinity to avoid any unexpected happening.
She said “although women were asked not to go out only at night, I decided not go out during the day too until the festival is over.’’
However, palace sources said the Oro was an annual festival in the town to appease the gods to ward off evil and usher in an era of prosperity.
The source said people in Ile-Ife usually celebrate Oro festival and other traditional festivals like Olojo, Orunmila, Edi, Oranmiyan, Esu, Obatala among others annually.
He said the celebration of Oro festival had nothing to do with the controversial news about the demise of the Ooni.
“The Oro festival does not have anything to do with the reported death of the royal father.
“It is an annual festival in the town which normally holds for seven days and it is taboo for young and old females to go out during the period.
“During this period, traditionalists will perform necessary rituals that will make the town more peaceful,’’ he said.
The source, who maintained that the monarch was still alive, said the closure of markets for businesses and ringing of special bell were the two major significant signs to indicate an Ooni had joined his ancestors.
Meanwhile, NAN learnt that the traditional festival coincided with the funeral of the head of hunters in the ancient town called Balogun in the cradle of Yoruba race.
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