From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
Traditional burial rites have been temporarily suspended in Asaba, Delta State capital, following the commencement of a series of traditional activities for the 2022 annual festival of the town.
The Chairman of Otu Ihaza Governing Council, Obi (Dr) Benibe Ugboko, made this known at a press briefing in Asaba.
Obi Ugboko, who listed the major festivals to include Aja, Iwaji, Inneh and Olie Oma, disclosed that the 2022 festive calendar has been approved by the Asagba-in-Council which is presided over by the Asagba of Asaba, Obi (Prof) Chike Edozien.
According to him, the approval followed the recommendation made by the Otu Ihaza, a traditional body with both legislative, executive and judiciary functions, to the council.
He explained the significance of each of the festivals, saying that the moment the festivities begin in early August, burial rites are suspended.
“It does not mean you cannot bury but those traditional rites will not take place. It will commence with the Ikpualu,” he said.
Obi Ugboko specifically noted that the Inneh festival is a celebration of the end of the traditional year and the beginning of another farming season.
He added that the Inneh is a period of happiness, as such, “burials and mournings are not permitted hence the suspension of traditional burial ceremonies in the town until festivities are over.
“Indeed during the period of the annual festivals, traditional burial ceremonies are prohibited,” he said.
He said despite their relatively long contact with western civilisation and a considerable degree of sophistication, the Asaba people have remained deep in ancient customs and traditions.
“From being the first capital of Nigeria, through an agonising civil war experience and currently the capital of oil-rich Delta State, our tradition and festivals have remained veritable signposts that not only remind us of our heritage in obvious times but also evoke our consciousness to the realisation that the torch must not be extinguished,” he noted.