No matter how hot your anger is, it cannot cook yam. – African Proverb.
The New Yam Festival (locally called Iri Ji) is an annual festival observed mainly by the people of the Middle belt and the Eastern part of Nigeria. It is held at the end of the rainy season which happens at different times in different communities begining from early August to October.
The festival symbolises the end of a harvest and the beginning of the next farming cycle. It also serves as an opportunity for communities to celebrate together thus fostering a bond and in ancient times served as an opportunity to thank the “gods of good harvest”.
In the farming cycle, the yam is the first crop to be harvested and is considered king of the crops.
How the new yam Festival is celebrated?
While the celebration lasts a whole day in some communities, it usually takes longer in others.
Being an important event in the calendar of the Igbo people all over the world, the festival usually begins with a ceremonial roasting of whole yams by the king or titled elders of the community.
Afterwards, portions of the yams are offered first to ‘the god of farming as gratitude for leading them to bountiful harvests. The rest are shared and the community can then feel free to begin to eat the new yam because back in the days, the people believed that eating the newly harvested yam before the festival incures the wrath of the gods.
Do you know any other culture that practices food festival? Please introduce them to us in the comment section.