It was just before night fall and the palace of the Ataoja of Osogboland, Oba Jimoh Oyetunji was thick with people as tourists, fun-seekers and indigenes thronged the royal compound to witness the lighting of the 16-point lamp, OlojumerindinlogunWithin the Osogbo cultural landscape, the lighting of the 16-point lamp is an important aspect of the annual Osun Osogbo festival. Expectedly, the all-night carnivalfeatured traditional dances and music from various dance groups within Osogboland.
The night started with the palace chiefs lighting the 16-point lamp just before dusk after which the king came out accompanied with other ranking chiefs to dance round it. The king first had two round of dancesaround the lampwhich was kept burning by a palace chief who regularly added cotton wool soaked with palm oil to it. On the third round, the king and his palace chiefs took the dance rites around the city and beforethey returned, the lamps were put off and carried away to where it is stored till the next OsunOsogbo festival.
The spiritual significance of the lamp ritual can never be over-emphasized. Legend has it that the 16 point lamp was taken from the spirits in the Osogbo groove by a powerful hunter called Olutimehin. A ranking chief in the land, Chief PopoolaFolarinwa, the Ajaguna of Osogboland said the lighting rites were in line with an instruction the hunter received from the goddess of Osogbo when he took the lamp from spirits in the forest.
He said: “The lamp is part of the history of the founding of Osogbo kingdom. There was an elephant hunter called Olutimehin. While searching for water during hunting in the Osun groove at night, he stumbled onsome spirits dancing around this lamp. As a powerful hunter, he overpoweredthem and took the lamp from them. But the goddess of the river warned that for him to keep the lamp, he will have to replicate thedance steps of the spirits around the lamp. That is how Osogbo kingdom came about the lamp andjust as we are doing tonight, in the last 600 years we have been doing it in compliance with what the deity requested.”
The Ajaguna said it takes no special ceremony to light or put off the lights on the lamps. However, he said two things must not happen; one, the lights must not go off when the king has not danced around it twice. Two the king must not return during his dance tour of the city to meet the lights burning. To ensure neither of the two undesirable events happen, a palace chief has to constantly stay around the lamp stand to keep it burning and put it off at the appropriate time.
To the Osogbo people the lighting of the lamp reminds them of their ties to the Osogbodeity. It is a time to renew and strengthen ancestral bonds.
He added, “It means we are fulfilling the mandate that was given to us by the goddess of Osun Osogbo who allowed the hunter to keep the lamp provided he dances the spirit dance. The annual Osun Osogbo festival is a paramount celebration in Osogbo and it gives us the opportunity to reconnect with the deity of the land. It is a festival no Osogbo man would want to miss.”
Apart from its spiritual significance, the lamp provided photo opportunities for indigenes and tourists alike who took turns to take photographs with it. Besides, in the chilly night breeze, the lamp provided warmth as people encircled it.
For Goldberg lager beer, it was yet another opportunity to treat tourists and visitors to a classy beer experience. A mobile cart was deployed at the king’s palace to serve visitors with Goldberg lager beer. For the third year running, Goldberg lager from the stables of Nigerian Breweries Plc.,is the official beer sponsor of the UNESCO-rated annual festival in Osogbo. Drinking Goldberg was being equated to being in sync with the Osun Osogbo festival. Tourists, festival revelers and indigenes proudly displayed their Goldberg bottles and cans as they enjoyed into the night. The brand’s activities during the festival has reportedly boosted economic activities in the city. According to a source, the activation of the Goldberg beer village has provided direct jobs and income to some families in Osogbo.