CELEBRATION of head culture could be traceable to the era before Christianity, when it was decreed that every household must choose either a lamb or a young goat for his household, Exodus 12, and the people are to take some of the blood and put it on the door posts and above the doors of the houses in which the animals are to be eaten, while in the wilderness, the blood was put on the forehead.
The head has special reference to the kingship and to family headship. The king head is of profound headship for the whole people, the clergy, the priests, and the chiefs through whom he rules.
The head of a family adores his head, not merely for himself but for all his dependants’ heads for their relationship is one of mutual interdependence.
The real significance of the Head is regarded as the controller of all consciousness in all individual behaviour, because the head represents the purposive, sentient aspect of the human personality.
When a person blesses the head other parts of the body are blessed as notion that the head subsumes all purposive human behaviour.
The head is identified with personal fortune, according to whether the person is successful or un-successful in Life. Fortuity plays little parts in Edo view of human fortunes, because almost every happening, good or bad, lie ultimately the actions of human beings, though the immediate cause may be attribute of supernatural agency.
The Edo people anoint their heads, pray annually and contingently to thank the Head for survival, well-beings and successful achievements, to continue its favours.
The people regarded the Head as the temple of human spirit, like the mind, the soul controls the human person, the Head directs its destiny.
Head is the upper most and foremost part of a human being. The Head is the covenance of Life, the behaviour and the capacity to organize in such a way as to survive and prosper in this world. It is the Head that leads a person through life. It is the seat of all censes, thinking, judgment, will or character, of hearing, seeing, speaking and on the successful, co-ordination of these faculties that individual fortunes depend.
The Head is of special significance in relation to human beings status within domestic or political group, as the hand symbolizes vigour and enterprise in the community.
Differences in status, rank, wealth, health, fertility and achievement are not entirely explicable in terms of human endeavour.
Some people are obviously born to be rich, some are obviously born to be poor, some have uncountable progeny, yet some are childless, hence the notion of pre-destiny is symbolically expressed in beliefs and practices.
TheHead admits greater degree of responsibility and the characteristic rites is that of anointing and blessing the Head. First thanking the Head for survival and prosperity, then asking the Head for further favours.
On man’s head depends his well-being and that of his Families. This dependence is reciprocal. He anoints and blesses their Heads at the same times as his own, thus, the Head has particular association with family Headship.
The annual celebration of anointing and blessing of the Head – IGUE, the performers, heads of families, and co-participants are mainly his wives and children, flanked on both sides. Suitable items, animals, fish, fowl, Kolanut, Sliced coconut, drinks and other materials are provided for the ceremony. Sometimes wealthy people provided cows, horses, (Esin) or bush cow (Ede) for celebration depending on progeny.
Inlaws, friends and relatives reciprocate in mutual relationship. The Igue festival, is a solid platform on which to rebuild the family and to enhance it, spiritually.
The Igue ceremony is the paramount of many festivals. According to Benin records, it is the time to celebrate prosperity. Two paramount chiefs did this by sacrificing the highest graded animal, the elephant alive to appreciate blessings and favours. They were Ezomon Ogun for his good luck in the seventeenth century and Tyase Ohenmwen in the nineteenth century.
Oba Akenzua II also sacrificed an elephant alive on February 1936. Igue has been celebrated among Edo groups which have had strong cultural relationship with Benin Kingdom and those neighbouring peoples that have been influenced by Benin culture.
The signification is an Agape of rejoicing – “Igue Oyenmwen”. All persons have the right to participate in the celebration, both in the sharing of the sumptuous meals and the distribution of the Ewere lily, the Ivy.
Children and youths after the night vigil cast away demons – (Ubi) and all evil spirits at dawn then collect the Ewere lily of good fortunes and good luck, to usher in blessings, as they distribute and share to every home, person on the street, highways and wishing them prosperous New year, good luck and blessings in all aspects of human endeavours; asking every one to open the door for prosperity (Oyoyo) and longevity.
In every home, street, quarters, household, children, wives take part in the jubilation, singing and dancing.
Children and youths using the Ewere lily stalk as chappers. They present the leaves to their parents and other people as billet for the New Year.
Paramount chiefs present bouquets of the lily to the Benin Monarch in decent, colourful and beautiful manner.
Isele Ogbe. Ogbe a vbe dia ru. Oba ghato Okpee, Isee!