Revue Preparing Arugba For Procession To Osun Grove
The time is 9:45am or thereabout. Arugba Osun (votary maiden), Osuntomi Oyetunji is seated on a stool decorated with colorful cloth. A white Ogboni sash is hung on the wall behind her. She herself ties a colorful sash made of sanyan over white alari cloth.
Her left hand bears golden bracelet while her neck is encircled by red and blue beads. In spite of the flurry of activities around her, the young girl remains calm.
Close by are statuettes, big gongs, a rattling gourd and a couple of talking drums. It looks like Arugba and her minders recently ended a dancing session, but her drummers are no longer in sight .
Placed in her front are two calabashes containing ritual items; one brown, the other white. Another brown calabash the size of a drinking bowl sits beside her on a tray made of raffia. Remnant of kola and alligator pepper served to Osun goddesses are inside the calabash.
One of her chaperones reaches towards the brown calabash and picks one lobe and begins to chew it, Arugba does not for a second look at the man’s way.
Then an old woman approaches her, says a few things to which Arugba only responds with hand gesture. Then an Osun priest and minder of Arugba , Chief Adigun Olayiwola Olosun who has been holding consultation session with other Osun disciples, walks closer to Arugba.
He wants to find out if the teenager is ready to begin the journey to the grove. The young girl nods in response. “Without her consent, procession cannot commence,” says Olayiwola.
The chief priest stretches hands out to pull up the young Arugba, and she rises as if on cue. Then tumult sets in within the small room where Arugba has been seated in the last one hour.
The bata drummers who have been waiting eagerly outside get the drift that the hour has come, and they begin to strike hard at their drums; a man in free white gown starts to clank at a bell, his rough face became hardened; a battery of photographers become instantly restless, they are eager to get the best shot of Arugba; and the security men who are previously relaxed assume alert position.
They form a human wall around the small alley which Arugba will pass through. The crowd outside immediately get the hint, and everyone roars in exultation as their expectation goes a notch higher.
The chief priest holds on tightly to the girl and leads her towards the gateway where one of the previous Arugba, Abimbola Adeyemi, stands waiting to place a decorated Calabash on her second successor.
At around 10:30 am Arugba steps out amidst a coterie of minders , and as soon the waiting crowd sighted her, the whole town went agog. “Ore Yeeye o!” They thunder.
Their noise is heightened by the sound of dane guns coming from different directions. Cane bearing young men go into frenzy as they begin to beat one another recklessly.
The crowd joined them by praying fervently for self, their family, their community and the nation.At the other end of the palace, Ataoja is also stepping out. His surrounded by his council of chiefs, community people and visitors.
He enters a black jeep with his wives. Other vehicles bearing the VIP follow, with Arugba in the lead. And so the procession to the grove begins. As bata drums guide her steps, Arugba dances left and right At this point, it is believed that the votary maiden has become a goddess herself.
She no longer hears the voices of the earthlings, but the voices of many Irunmole who dutifully guides her feet to the shrine of the Osun goddess. In the last 600 years, the spirits have never failed in discharging this duty, said Chief Olayiwola.
And on this Friday morning, they did not. Arugba is successfully delivered of her load at the grove by 12 noon or thereabout.