New Yam festival is the annual festival celebrated in Nigeria in West Africa by the Igbo people and the festival is associated with collecting crops. The Igbo people organize this harvest festival in the end of August having fun and being grateful to the gods and ancestors for food and the appropriate weather. The festival is called Yam, because this culture is the most important one in the region providing many people with food for the whole year. The holiday is closely connected with old traditions and customs and the local tribes connect the quality of the harvest with the will and help of gods and ancestors. The festival begins with the eating of yam, but it is important to admit that only the oldest and the most respected person is able to eat the first yam (very often it is the king of the tribe).
This person is supposed to be the mediator between the worlds of sacrum and living people. New Yam festival is associated with masquerades, singing, dancing, etc so people have fun and celebrate the successful harvest and prepare to the next cycle. It is natural that the festival has a pagan origin and is very interesting for anthropologists who are interested in old native cultures. It is natural, that because of the spread and influence of Christianity New Yam festival is a bit changed in some areas losing its authentic features.
The holiday does not only fill the hearts of people with joy and thank but also unites people for the common aim and peaceful and productive coexistence.
New Yam festival is the harvest festival popular in West Africa and the student who is interested in anthropology is able to study the issue deeper and learn something new about the ancient African tribes, their culture, traditions and festivals. The student is expected to write about the background of the festival, the history of the holiday, the cultural peculiarities of the customs, etc. One can describe the festival in detail trying to explain the symbols and actions performed during the holiday, compare New Yam festival with other similar harvest festivals of other regions trying to find similarities and differences evaluating its importance for the local tribes.
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