Contrary to the general belief that the Udiroko festival in Ekiti State is fetish, Oba Rufus Adeyemo Adejugbe, the Ewi of Ado-Ekiti has said there is no truth whatsoever in that claim, adding there is nothing secret or fetish about the age-long festival which has become an important decimal in the cultural calendar of the community. Speaking in Lagos while announcing this year’s programme of events, Oba Adejugbe declared that Udiroko festival in Ado-Ekiti is purely the celebration of the cultural essence of the Ado people dating back to the establishment of the Ado kingdom in 1300AD. “It is a festival that has nothing to do with rituals, secrecy, fetishism or idolism. The Udiroko festival is the New Year Day celebration of Ado kingdom. It starts with Jumat service in the Mosque on Friday that immediately precedes the first day event of the week-long celebrations and ends with a Church thanksgiving service, this is now the annual practice vis-a-vis the beginning and ending of the Udiroko festival,” he declared. From the point of history, the Ewi said Udiroko is a euphemistic expression of the significance of the first meeting of Ado-Ekiti people under the Iroko tree to celebrate the founding of Ado kingdom under the paramountcy of the Ewi then, who thereafter gave a royal proclamation of the first gathering under the Iroko tree as the first day in the Ado-Ekiti calendar.
“In other words, in the ancient times Udiroko was celebrated in the form of a universal Ado-Ekiti festival Olorunborun. It was the original traditional new-year-day of Ado-Ekiti during which individual praise-worships and prayers were offered to the heavens in every home in the town with the killing of a cock, a much more cherished and highly priced domestic animal at that period of time, to pray and appease their heads. So people come to say “Happy New Year” to one another.
“The Udiroko festival, which marks the first day in Ado-Ekiti traditional calendar is yearly celebrated to continually give a pride of place to our history, culture and tradition as a people. The celebration of this tripod of our collective existence as Ado people provides the ample opportunity to all Ado sons and daughters both at home and abroad to come together to appreciate God and pray for continuous peace and progress in the coming year. For the 2019 edition already underway, Oba Adejugbe said activities as planned by the organising committee include a beauty pageant, football competition, music extravaganza, cultural shows, sharing of kola nuts and walnuts, religious activities, entertainment of guests and paying homage to the Ewi in his palace on August 20, the grand finale.