Igboamaka: New Yam Festival ( Iwa Ji na Iri Ji )

Nke onye chili, ya zelu! Happy New Yam festival to all umuafo Igbo worldwide!!!

The new yam festival is symbolic in Igbo culture and tradition. Each Town has a different day, but always celebrated during the rainy season. We celebrate by breaking the new yam with family, a symbol of a new harvest, of a new calendar year. Some people will not eat Yam unless their town have celebrated theirs .

 The New Yam Festivities marks the begining of a new calendar year in Igbo Culture and tradition. Click To Tweet

New Yam Festival

This is Iri ji, to eat yam which is among family members. Iri ji is done after Iwa ji which is the day before the Eze (Obi) and his Chiefs break the new yam after eating the old yam.
This is our tradition, our culture, one that has not yet been eroded but somewhat diluted. We still break kola nut, we still pray to our ancestors.”

Oba Ji ( Igbo Yam Barn). Date: 1939 (The Trustees of the British Museum)

Ahia Njoku, also known as Ifejioku or Aha Njoku, is the Igbo yam deity.

New Yam Festival

Planting Yam, which is the main Agricultural crop of Ndi Igbo, is a male occupation according to tradition (although with modern planting methods, I believe that women should be free to become Yam farmers too).

Di Ji ( Husband of Yam)

The New Yam Festival known as ‘Iwa-Ji ohuu’ or ‘Iri-Ji Ohuu’ is a celebration depicting the prominence of yam in the social-cultural life of our people.
During the festival we thank God for the successful harvest of new yams and perform traditional rites to declare the new yam fit for general consumption.

New Yam Festival

The Ahanjoku/Ifejioku Festival is celebrated by Ndi Igbo on a full moon before Iwa Ji (Scaling Yam) and Iri Ji (eating Yam) on an Eke market day.
The festival is now known as Afia Olu in some Igbo clans which begins on an Eke Market day.
Our ancestral heritage must be preserved in the same way that other groups preserve their own. Some of us even do more to preserve European ancestral heritage than Europeans themselves. Omenaani ndi, diri ha, ka nke anyi wee diri anyi maka na omenana/Omenani/Omenala/Omenali anyi ga na aga n’iru!

Note: If your surname is ‘Njoku’; your ancestors were great Yam farmers. And, to keep & extend that legacy, we should revive yam farming by promoting & investing in Agriculture in Igboland.

Some of unu celebrate non-Igbo festivals with more enthusiasm than members of the culture that invented the festival. Yet, we must beg you to partake in the celebration of your own ancestral heritage.

Amongst the Igbo, the ‘Iri ji festival’ depicts a cultural heritage which conveys the prominence of Yam in the sociocultural life of the people. It is contingent to note that yam apart from being the main agricultural crop of the Igbo is also the staple food. Various Igbo communities have their days for this auspicious event characterized by convivial festivities which heralds the eating of the new yam.


For the various communities that make up Igbo race the “iri-ji ohu” may extend from a day’s event to a week-long affair which includes profound pageantry and variety entertainment, usually premised on ceremonial rites by the traditional head “Igwe” (king), cultural displays, masquerades display, fashion parade and feasting on a grand scale.
The hallmark of the festival is that at the inception, yams are offered to God and ancestors before distributing to the villagers. The ritual is performed either by the oldest man in the community, the king or eminent title holder. After the supplication of thanksgiving to God, they eat the first yam because it is assumed that their status affords them the privilege of being intermediaries between their people and the gods/God/Ancestors. The ritual portends the community’s gratitude and appreciation to God for enabling a fruitful harvest. This explains profoundly, the three aspect of Igbo world-view that they are pragmatic, religious & appreciative.

The significance of the New Yam Festival captures their merriment after the cultivation season and a day set aside to show appreciation to the ancestors & God for their infinite protection and kindness in leading them from lean periods to time of bountiful harvest without calamities resulting from hunger.
Igbo unity is important to me, so I’d suggest that a day or two should be set aside for all Ndi #Igbo to celebrate this festival together just like; Chinese New year, Indian Festival of Light etc.
  Igbo Kwenu!

For –  @Igboaamaka  

  * The Igboamaka feature is a contributive partnership between Igboamaka and Untameafrica.

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