It was all merriment in Koniju Town of ancient Okrika kingdom last weekend as the people gathered to celebrate their legendary culture and proud heritage, the Iria or Puberty festival.
This year’s edition of Iria festival was remarkable in many ways, and according to Chief Biriowu-Opuyaa, chairman Koniju Town Council of Chiefs, it will be used to rekindle the rich cultural heriage of the people in spite of the overriding influence of modernization.
The well attended programme started with the shaving of the heads of eligible contestants in the Iria festival which is known as (Tibisein).
The eligible contestants later sit in rows to collect ticket before they are examined by the old women of the town, known as (Egbele Erema). The inspection by the old women according to the culture of the people is to ensure strict compliance to the dictates of tradition.
The secretary of Chiefs writes out the ticket to the young ladies who displays their tattoo bodies to show that they have reached the culturally accepted age of maturity which prepares them for husband.
The contestants betray no sense of shame but exhibit their culture with pride and contentment. The festival is performed annually in honour of the girls to mark their coming of age and graduation into womanhood.