Goddess Osun festival in Nigeria

Fertility goddess Osun festival attracts thousands of Yorubas, an ancient ethnic group in West Africa that numbers around 40 million, the vast majority living in Nigeria.

According to Unesco which named the area a World Heritage site in 2005, the dense forest of the grove and “its meandering river is dotted with sanctuaries and shrines, sculptures and art works in honour of Osun and other deities“.

Priestesses prepare offerings and sacrifices to the great goddess: a heady mixture of sacrificed chickens, ochre powder, potato chips and gin. Beating drums and the sound of shots from colonial-era rifles build to a crescendo.
Soon tens of thousands of people are marching past. Crowds accompany the  Arugba, a virgin whose face is covered with a scarlet cloth embroidered with shells, to the river where the spirit of the water goddess lives.

The wife of Sango, god of fire and thunder, once demanded a sacrifice to bring prosperity to the community, but today the virgin is just tasked with giving the offerings to the sacred river.

On the riverbank, in the shade of century-old trees, a woman reads the future in kola nuts.

One after another, women fall into a trance and have to be held back so that they do not drown in the river.

Nigerian women will turn to the beautiful Osun to give them children.

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