Seventh Annual Orisa Rain Festival
Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2006
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Trinidad and Tobago
In Yoruba tradition, as indeed in many other eastern and pre-western societies, the change of seasons is of tremendous importance and is a time for much jubilee and inner reflection. This is especially so during the time when the seasonal rain cycle begins and new life has a chance to assume physical vessels and roam the earth. Traditionally, in Yorubaland, Africa, the rainmaking rituals were some of the most formal ceremonies that were held there. The revered rainmaker would even call on the deities responsible for the rain to bless the earth during periods of extreme drought. This reverence and deep appreciation for the coming of the rainy season has been transplanted from the mainland, Africa, to Trinidad and Tobago and by extension, other nations of the west that have been directly influenced by African people and culture.
The Annual Rain Festival held at Shrine Gardens in Santa Cruz has attempted, and successfully so, to formally revive this ancient African tradition and has been doing so for the past seven years. The 7th Annual Rain Festival took place from Friday, 9th June, and was concluded on Sunday, 12th June, 2006. This three day festival was filled with many activities that highlighted many of the successes that Africans and African descended people have made in the world.
Friday, which was the formal opening of the festival, kicked off at moonrise and was introduced by the Master of Ceremonies, Awo Orunmilla Chief Akoda Babalawo Oluwole Abiomi Ifakunle Adetutu Alagbede. Essential to the opening, as it was throughout the three day festivity, was the prayer/libation by Awo Ifakunle. Also significant in the opening ceremony was the official welcome by Iya Sangowunmi, the Spiritual Head of the Ile Eko Sango/Osun Mil'Osa, and the blessing of Honorees: Oscar Pyle, Baba Sam Phills, Earl Lovelace, Ishmael 'Penco' Best, Lazaro Ros, Baba Falokun Fatunmbi and L' Antoinette Osun Ide Stein. Greetings were then given by the Nigerian High Commission and the feature address, "Preparation for Repatriation", was presented by Sis Eintou Pearl Springer. Also present to commence the opening of the Annual Rain Festival 2006 was the Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, the Honorable Joan Yullie Williams.
On Saturday, there were displays of art, craft, clothes, jewelry and books, all with African and African spiritual themes. Moreover, the audience was blessed by local entertainers such as Arshad "Ifaniyi" Salandy who delivered the Calypso entitled, "A Mother's Call", 'Disciple' who sang, "I Never Thought" and "Flags" and 'Composer' who sang, "Child Training" and "Head Tie". Another well received performer was Pearl Eintou Springer who recited the poems, "Ode to Oshun" and "Loving the Skin I'm In." The WITCO Desperadoes Steelband Orchestra and the Courts Sound Specialist Steelband Orchestra also moved the crowd with their beautiful melodies on pan.
During the course of the three day event there were performances by Drum Xplosion led by Oba Ofun Vereen and several dances by L'ACADCO Caribbean Dance Force choreographed by L'Antionette Osun Ide Stines. Also, there were various lectures that occurred several times throughout the festival educating guests about Yoruba spirituality.
Guests were blessed with Orisa Cuisine on Sunday, and witnessed the Maypole Dance by the Maracas Youth Group and a ceremony dedicated to Ogun, who was instrumental in the evolution of the African drums to the steelpan instrument. The close of the festival was ended with a final ritual to thank the Gods and the Ancestors for the past proceedings and to ask for further blessings for all the participants of the event.
This revival of the Rain Celebrations was done successfully by Iya Sangowunmi and members of the shrine at Shrine Gardens in Santa Cruz and shows that things lost can always be rediscovered through dedication and perseverance.
Seventh Annual Orisa Rain Festival in Pictures
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