Among the Igbo and other ethnic groups, festival is one of the most important forms of cultural phenomenon. According to lindwood Frederikson; throughout the history of human culture, certain days or period of time have been set aside to communiurate, ritually celebrate or reenact or anticipate events or season (agricultural, religious or socio-culture) that give meaning and cohesiveness to an individual and to his community, (1908: 1977).
A festival comprises a time set aside for a public celebration and its activities whether religious or secular. It is a special time which is separate from ordinally times. The festival identify with the duration of the special time.
There are different types of festival in Abagana like the Ede-Aro, Ofala and new yam. Ichekeotu, iyazi festuival and others, which are celebraretd in Abagana alone.
The special time is sacred. Thus a participant in a festival identifies himself with the sacred time through ritualistic re-enactment of the events that inform man about his origin, identify and destiny (Frederickson, 1908-1977) has observed a festival in identified with the duration of the special time- a day or period of time. Regardless of the duration, each festival has all or some of the facets: a performance of a kind or rite: passage rites, sacrificial rites, seasonal or commemorative observation and rites celebrating the end of fact or fast period, at the shrine, an actor or any other solemn spot.
b. People gathering together at a community center, market place or any other spot.
c. Communal eating and drinking
d. Dramatic dancing, music playing and athletic displays
Festival are periodic recalling days or seasons of gaiety or merry-making set aside by a community, tribe or clan, for the observance of sacred celebrations, religious solemnities or musical or traditional performance of special significance occurance like to conquest of a neIgbouring village in war. The festival can take form of a religious celebration during which sacrifices are offered to the different gods having power over rain, sunshine, marriage and good harvest.
There are merry- making traditions associated with festival. This may imply that masks draw the attention of the public and by so doing create a forum for social interaction. Expressing the role of masquerades in “things fall apart”, Achebe stresses that the masked spirit in the traditional Igbo society was a vehicle of much more than manners. It was the repository of all that was held secret, mythical, mysterious, magical, and supernatural in Igbo culture. Wole soyinka shares the same view with Achebe in his use of masquerade in the play titled “the road”. From the sources available and accessible to me I found out that Ede-Aro festival in abagana has not been documented and as such deserved detailed study. Masquerade and their perfomance are usually displayed at a place called afor square (arena) which is a traditional version of a stadium.
1.1 PREPARATION BY THE SHRINE PRIEST EDE-ARO AND THE MASQUAREDES.
Ozo ezenwokwe the present aro priest is engage in a series of preparation designed to make the occasion successful. He scarifies to the auxriary gods and soliticites their protection over the people throughout the duration of the festival. He also implores the gods to grant him the will and health to perform his duties creditably. The masquerades that are organized by the elders visits the Aro (priest) a night before to find out if Aro (the gods) has granted his permission so that the festival could be celebrated. They also give thanks to the deity for his protection in the previous years and seen assurance that protection in the previous years and seen assurance that he would continue to do until the next festival. Most of the dangerous masquerade appear in the night in order to perform at the Aro square between 12 mid night and 3am. Some perform in the day time at the same Aro square while other worship at the aro shrine.
During this period, the council of elders is summound by the priest to the Aro shrine to assertain the most appropriate date which should be announce to the public for the ceremony. This is done through divination “igba-afa”. It is the responsinility of the diviner to foresee all the ills that might be fall anyone or all and ensure all the necessary ritual are performed for the success of the festival.after ascertaining the appropriate date which must fall on an oye market day, this is announced to the public.
Manipulation which is organized and communicable and it culturally transmitted from the above definition, one can realize that art is not only also the exposition and transmission of cultural significance to the society in a visual form.
Art is indispensable to indigeneous cultural organization whose role were either social, political, religion, entertainment or a combination of all or some of these. In order to control the society to enforce the acknowledgement but unwritten laws-“Omenala” to ensure justice and fact-play, art was put in service of men.
1.2 THE LIFE OF AN ARO PRIEST (SHRINE PRIEST)