Odo Festival

Odo Festival

December-August, biannually
The Odo festival marks the return of the dead ( odo ) to visit the living in the northern Igbo villages of Nigeria. Lasting in some places from December until August, the festival has three distinct stages: the arrival of the odo, their stay with the living, and their departure. The first stage is observed with ritual celebrations and festivities welcoming the returning spirits of the dead. Then there is a stretch of six or more months during which the spirits of the dead interact with their living relatives and visit their ancestral homes. Their final departure is a very emotional affair ( see Awuru Odo Festival), since they will not return for two more years.
Odo plays, featuring certain stock characters identified by their costumes and the manner in which they interact with the audience, are usually performed at the return and staying stages of the odo journey. Most of the roles are played by men, while the women function as chorus members and sometimes as spectators. The performers wear costumes traditionally made from plant fiber, leaves, beads, and feathers, although more durable cloth costumes are becoming more common in contemporary Odo plays. A musical accompaniment, featuring xylophones, drums, and rattles, is known as obilenu music, meaning "that which lies above."
CONTACTS:
Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
3519 International Ct. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-986-8400; fax: 202-775-1385
www.nigeriaembassyusa.org
SOURCES:
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 682