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Iguaro Nri Festival ushers Igbo New Year calendar, planting season

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It was a revalidation of the oldest cultural festival in Igboland last weekend, when the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, and other stakeholders in Igbo worldview and cultural renaissance gathered at the palace of His Royal Majesty, Ezenri Obidiegwu Onyesoh, the Nri Enwerelani II, in Agukwu-Nri to witness the Iguaro Festival (Calendar calculation or chronicling). Select stargazers perform the lunar calendar calculation.

Since the ancient days, one month is originally calculated from the number of days it takes a moon to circle the earth. In other words, the chronicling considers the time between two full moons, which is about 29.5 days.

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In Igbo calendar, lunar year has 336 native days, since one lunar month comprises seven native weeks or 28 native days. This is unlike the solar calculation, which scientists say has 365.24217 days or 365.24days for short with 24 hours or 86,400 seconds in a common or solar year, and 366 days in a leap year, with every single day having 24 hours for leap year.

So, the Igbo calendar calculation, which shares semblance with what obtains in China and Israel, is shorter than the conventional solar year of 365 days, with the 29 extra days, based on conventional calendar, regarded as the 13th month. Stargazers usually fix the first day of the moon, as soon as the first moon is sighted.

According to the regent of Agukwu-Nri Kingdom, Prince Ikenna Onyesoh, knowledge of celestial movement determines the date of Iguaro and stars help to determine lunar calendar.He pointed out that Igbo lunar calendar is based on 13 lunar months, which is made up of four days – Afor, Nkwo Eke and Oye.

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The regent also spoke on the significance of the festival, saying, “Ndigbo’s New Year starts in February, same as in Asia. These cultures use the moon to determine their season and time. During this period, Ezenri proclaims and ushers in the beginning of planting season.”

While lamenting that the country’s colonial heritage has affected Igbo culture, he said Iguaro Festival is not idol worshipping event.The regent said: “The proclamation of Igbo lunar calendar by Ezenri is a yearly ritual.”

The President-General of Ohanaeze-Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, who recognises the importance of Iguaro in the life and economic pursuit of Ndigbo, said that was the reason he came.Nwodo said: “My participation at this year’s Igu Aro Ndigbo will demonstrate to all the determination of Ohanaeze in ensuring that our language and tradition are sustained. And to make the sustenance long lasting, every Igbo person must be part of the crusade.

“Our knowledge of Igbo language and tradition will also help us have knowledge of our origin, lifestyles and norms,” he said.According to him, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide is putting modalities in place to ensure that teaching of Igbo language and tradition is sustained in both primary and secondary schools across the Southeastern states.

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“Ohaneze Ndigbo, which I head presently, isworking out modalities to ensure that study of Igbo language and tradition is made compulsory in primary and secondary schools across Igbo land.

“All hands must also be on deck to ensure that the language is sustained. In this regard, parents, care-givers and teachers, should lead this crusade; because, they are the people to champion the use of the language at home and in schools.”

Nwodo insisted that Igbo language and culture couldn’t go into extinction, irrespective of neglect and poor revitalisation process.Contributing, a cultural organisation, Odum Igbo Worldwide, led by Chinweze Ejimofor Ezennia Igbo from Awkuzu, who spoke through Ikem Okoye Dike (Ezeudo) from Awkuzu, said they came to Aguukwu-Nri to get the blessing of Ezenri on the occasion of Iguaro.He said that Odum Igbo has fixed October 30 and November 1, 2020 for its New Yam Festival.

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The regent had with him, members of Okpalaeze-Nri, Prince Chukwuemeka Onyesoh (Agbalanze) and members of Nzuko Ozo Igbo led by the former Vice Chancellor of Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Prof. Chiweike Ejike; National Secretary of the group Professor Ike Oruka, Hon. Gabriel Onuzuluike (Ozuome na Achi); Dr. M. Ibeneme; and Johnbosco Ofobike (Osisioma), among others.

The other groups in attendance include Biafra Independent Movement/Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (BIM/MASSOB) led by Comrade Vin Iloh; Njikoka Umunri, Obeagu Village, Anuka Village, Umunri Ebuzo family, Amulu n’uno,and Iyom Umuezekammadu.The regent, as part of the highpoints of the event, distributed yam seedlings robbed in white chalk (nzu) to natives and visitors for onward cultivation for the planting season.

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