Odwira Festival: Remembering Ashantis’ Defeat
Odwira Festival is celebrated in the mountainous part of the Eastern region, precisely in the Akuapem ridge area with town such as Larteh, Akropong, Manfe, Aburi, Adonten and Adukrom all taking part in the festival.
Odwira is held in the month of September every year as part of the tradition and customs of the people from the aforementioned towns. The festival was instituted in 1825 by the then paramount chief of Akropong, Nana Addo Dankwah (1811-1835) after the Akuapems defeated the Ashantis in a brutal war that lasted years. Odwira was to give thanks to the ancestors and gods of the land for the victory as well as remember and celebrate their famed victory.
Ever since then, the festival has become an annual ritual and one of the most anticipated outdoor events and festival in Ghana. While the main purpose of the festival and reason for initiating the festival may have slightly changed over the centuries, the festival continues to keenly held in high esteem by the Akuapems. Today Odwira is described as a festival celebrated to usher in a new peaceful year. Activities such as durbars, clean up exercises, entertainment event like street carnivals are used to mark the festival in the various towns.
Before the festival commences, there is a 40-day meditation period involving all the chiefs, elders and council men of the participating traditional areas. This period is interpreted as a period where the rulers of the traditional areas seek wisdom and guidance from their ancestors. The meditation period is also used to solve differences between towns’ people to ensure their grudge is not carried into the festive period.
14 days to the commencement of the festival, the Gyigyafo and Ntoabarima shrines (both located in Adonten) outdoor the new yam harvest with special outdoor event known as Odehero. At this event, libations are poured to the gods and ancestors by the chief priests of the shrines.
There is also a ban on noisemaking and public ceremonies likely to generate any form of noise in the communities. It must also be noted that the various communities have slight variations with regards to how the festival is celebrated.