The Ogun Festival commemorates the god Ogun, a mythical warrior, and the birth of his son, Oranmiyan, who laterbecame king of Yorubaland. Ogun is the god of 'iron' and of war, as well as the patron of blacksmiths and hunters. He was the first god to descend to earth while it was still a marshy wasteland. Since he was the only one who possessed the tool, an iron cutlass that could penetrate the dense vegetation, he cleared the way for the other deities to descend.When Obatala had finished molding the physical form of the first ancestors, it was Ogun who added the finishing touches a role he played throughout all of creation. He was a great hunter who was betrayed during his journey in Ire-Ekiti which led to his death, legend has it that Ogun rose from the dead to behead all who betrayed him.
Ogun festival is an annual festival performed in Ondo state. It is celebrated in late August or early September with sacrifices of Snails , Tortoises and Dogs. It is a time when music fills the air and marches fill the street as people gather to pay respect to their ancestors. Participants are richly dressed with white and blue powder on their faces and masquerades are seen on the street dancing.
The Ogun Festival lasts for three days. It begins with the vigil known as the Ilagun or Asoro, which takes place atmidnight. On behalf of its blacksmiths, the city of Ife donates two new hoes and several iron bell-gongs needed for the ritual. The Ogun shrine in Ife is decorated with palm fronds, and two dogs are prepared for sacrifice. A libation ispoured, prayers to the god are offered, and a ritual dance is held around the shrine.
The celebration of the Ogun festival will not be complete till the dancers march to the Ogun shrine where dogs are sacrificed ,the priestess performs traditional dances and ritual rites. The worshippers of Ogun believe that observing the Ogun festival brings forth good fortune to the land.
The war chiefs in full regalia dance to the tune of the ibembe drums and bell-gongs made of iron while traditional Ogun songs are sung. The highlight is the procession from the Ogun Festival palace to Oke Mogun, where Ogun finally settled after abdicating the throne. The chief, who wears the royal crown of Ife, is accompanied by priests and priestesses of the various other gods and goddesses worshipped by the Yoruba.Guns are fired when they arrive at the shrine. Special rituals are carried out there, and a ram is sacrificed to the deadancestors or Oonis.
The dances performed at the Ogun Festival reenact mythical themes and are choreographed according to traditional models. Sometimes they consist of simple gestures-such as swinging a machete-that recall the god's powers. Although Ogun is traditionally regarded as the patron of blacksmiths, who unlock the secrets of the earth and forge them into tools, nowadays he is worshipped by drivers and surgeons as the god of automobiles, trucks and others