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Enjoying local festivals in Nigeria

If you are a history and culture buff, you will obviously want to know about different countries, their culture, traditions and people. There are many tourists who constantly visit foreign nations seeking to dwell in their glorious past and acquaint themselves with the people and their lifestyle. The best way to get a glimpse closely is to know about the local festivals by actively participating in them.

Nigeria is one such important country in Africa where many local festivals are celebrated dating back to ancient times before the advent of major religions. These festivals to date are still celebrated and popular for masquerade and dance. Some of the most famous local festivals celebrated in Nigeria include Durbar, Arugungu Fishing Festival, Sharo/Shadi Festival, Eyo Festival, Shango Festival, Benin Festival, and Ibo Celebration of Onitsha Ivories. It is pertinent to get acquainted with these local festivals and enjoy them fully. So, why not book flights to Lagos, the capital city, and visit Nigeria to take part in the festivities yourself!

The Durbar festival is being celebrated in Nigeria for past many centuries. The festival came into vogue during the time when the horses were used in warfare by the Emirate (state) in the north. It was a period when the Emirate was defended after the contribution of a regiment from each nobility household, district and town. With the various regiments coming into being, the Durbar festival also became quite popular. In fact, the Durbar festival owes its existence to the military parade in which various regiments took part. It was held once or twice a year amid the presence of the Emir and his military chiefs.

During the Durbar or military parade, the regiments participated with zeal showcasing their preparedness for war, their horsemanship, and, above all, their loyalty to the Emirate. The Durbar, as a matter of fact, has now become a festival in the present times. The visiting Heads of State are now honored with the celebration of Durbar festival. It is also held at the culmination of two important Muslim festivals – Id-el Fitri and Ide-el Kabir. The Katsina Durbar is most spectacular and magnificent of all the modern day Durbar festivals.

Arugungu Fishing Festival
The colorful Arugungu Fishing Festival is held every year in Arugungu, a riverside town in Kebbi State. The festival was first celebrated to mark the historic visit of Sultan Dan Mu’azu in August 1934. A grand fishing festival was held as a tribute to the sultan. The festival has now become a major tourist attraction. It has become an annual event and is celebrated between the months of February and March. It’s a fascinating sight to see hundreds of local men and boys entering the water in accompaniment with large fishnet scoops during the festival. The canoes filled with drummers later on join in the revelry. A large number of men can be seen driving the fish to shallow waters by rattling huge seed-filled gourds. It’s simply amazing to see vast nets being cast and plenty of fish being harvested. These include the peculiar Balloon Fish and the giant Nile Perch. Many events are also organized during the festival such as diving and swimming competitions, bare-handed fishing, wild duck hunting, and canoe racing. The festivities also see the whole night of dancing, singing and drinking.
Sharo/Shadi Festival
The Sharo/Shadi Festival finds its roots in the Fulani culture. The most important part of the festival is the Sharo or Shadi (flogging meeting). It finds its origin among the Jaful Fulani people, whose ranks are still considered to be the finest. The bare-chested contestants, most unmarried men, take part in the Sharo festival. They are escorted by beautiful girls and brought for a contest to the center ring. A contest takes place between the two bare-chested men. Each of them brandishes a whip and tries to frighten the opponent. The contest takes place amidst loud cheers from the crowd and drumming. The challenger in fact flogs his opponent with his whip. The opponent is expected to endure the lashes without wincing or showing pain, or else he is branded a coward by the cheering crowd. This festival is a great fun to participate in.

Eyo Festival
The Eyo Festival is particularly unique to Lagos area. The Eyo Festival widely resembles the modern day carnival in Brazil. The main highway in the heart of the city is closed to traffic on Eyo Day. The procession from Idumota to Iga Idunganran is taken out. The festival is held to commemorate the memory of the Oba of Lagos, a highly regarded chief. The Eyo Festival doesn’t have any particular fixed day or date and can be celebrated whenever the occasion demands, such as the death of a highly regarded chief and his final burial rites.

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