The Akwasidae Festival in Ghana

The Akwasidae Festival in Ghana

The Akwasidae Festival is the most important event for the Ashtani diaspora in Ghana

The Akwasidae Festival is celebrated by the Ashtani people and Ashtani chiefs in Ghana. The festival is celebrated on a Sunday, once in every six weeks. In importance the Akwasidae Festival is next only to the National Day celebrations. The traditions of the Akwasidae Festival are connected with the Akan annual calendar. The calendar is dibided into 9 parts. Each part lasts approximately six weeks (between 40–42 days in a period). The celebration of this period is called the Adae Festival. The Adae Festival has two celebration days: the Akwasidae Festival which is celebrated on the final Sunday of the period and the Awukudae Festival that is celebrated on a Wednesday within the period. The Friday preceding 10 days to the Akwasidae is called the Fofie which means a ritual Friday.

Akwasidae festival honors Ashanti independence war

The festival glorifies the milestones in the history of the Ashanti Kingdom. Its first celebration was during the attainment of statehood by the Ashanti kingdom – after it defeated the Denkyiras in the battle of Feyiase, also known as the Ashanti independence war. During the festival the rich cultural heritage of the Ashanti people is all shown up to attract local and visitors.

The Akwasidae festival takes place in the Royal Palace

The Akwasidae festival takes place in the royal palace and gathers hundreds of people, all dressed traditionally. The ceremony opens in the throne room, where only the initiates are allowed.

The Akwasidae festival commemorates the date the Golden Stool was brought down from Heaven

Akwasidae, according to the Ashanti cultural archive records is an ornate ceremony, commemorating the date that the Ashanti Golden Stool was magically brought down from heaven. Ritual libations of blood and schnapps are poured onto the thrones of the former kings as offerings to them and to the ancestors.

Charity is an important part of the Akwasidae festifal

During the last Akwasidae of the year special attention is given to make food offerings and donations for helping people. Food offerings include special items such as eto (mashed African yam) garnished with hard-boiled eggs.

 

People have the liberty to shake hands with the King during the festival

On this day, the Asantehe (King of Ashante) meets his subjects and subordinate chiefs in the courtyard of the Manhyia Palace.The Golden Stool (throne) is displayed at the palace grounds in the presence of the king. People are singing and dancing while the king holds his durbar on the occasion of the festival. During that people have the liberty to shake hands with their king.

The King is covered with gold jewelery during the Akwasidae festival

The king goes in a procession in a palanquin decorated with gold jewelery and he sits under large bright umbrella. He also witnesses a colourful parade, from his palace grounds at Kumasi. Participants of the parade include drum beaters, folk dancers, horn-blowers and singers.

The king pays respect to the skeletal remains of his ancestors

As it is festival of paying respect to ancestors, the king visits the Bantama Mausoleum and offers worship not only to his ancestors' chairs (stools), but also to the skeletal remains of his ancestors. He pays respect to the honour of Abosom (lesser gods in the Akan tradition) and Nsamanfo (spiritually cultivated ancestors).

People listen the glorious stories of the past Ashanti kings

In front of the king stand other chiefs in the shade of their umbrellas, sword carriers, bearers of ritual knives, armed guards with loaded rifles and nobles with ostrich feather fans. Sitting next to the king are found the dignitaries of the court. The royal speaker is standing by the king’s side and holds in his hands a golden scepter as a symbol of the Asantehene power. The Queen mother, the most important woman in the realm, is also present and surrounded by her court exclusively made up of women. To accompany the ceremony, “griots” tell the glorious stories of the past Ashanti kings, musicians play drums and ivory horns giving the rhythm to the ceremony and women wrapped in bright red clothes dance performing traditional steps.

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