The Rich Traditions of the Akwasidae Festival

Stories and facts

Occurring on a Sunday once every six weeks, this festival holds deep-rooted significance in honoring both personal and community ancestors, while fostering a sense of unity and tradition among the Ashanti people.

Observance and Significance

Rooted in the Akan annual calendar, the Adae Festival marks a period of approximately six weeks, divided into nine months. Within this cycle, two distinct celebration days emerge: the Akwasidae Festival, observed on the final Sunday of the period, and the Awukudae Festival, commemorated on a Wednesday within the same timeframe. Preceding the Akwasidae Festival, the Friday ten days prior is known as Fofie, bearing ritualistic importance.

The recurrence of the Akwasidae Festival every 40 or 42 days aligns with the official Ashanti calendar. During the final Akwasidae of the year, coinciding with the Adae Kese Festival, special attention is given to making food offerings and donations to aid the community. It is imperative to note that the festivals of Adae are not interchangeable, as they have been fixed since ancient times, preserving their distinct cultural significance.

Practices and Rituals

Central to the Akwasidae Festival are the rites aimed at honoring both personal and community ancestors. The gathering, known as Akom, serves as a platform for drumming, dancing, and singing, constituting a vibrant celebration to pay homage to Abosom (lesser gods in the Akan tradition) and Nsamanfo (spiritually cultivated ancestors). Food offerings, including special items such as eto (mashed African yam) garnished with hard-boiled eggs, symbolize reverence and gratitude towards ancestral spirits.

Every Ashanti individual partakes in the Akwasidae Festival, with the event holding particular significance for those who do not observe the festival of Odwira. For them, the Akwasidae serves as a vital opportunity to commemorate and honor their ancestors, strengthening familial and community bonds.

The Royal Gathering

A pivotal aspect of the Akwasidae Festival is the assembly of the Asantehene (King of Ashante) and his subjects and subordinate chiefs within the courtyard of the Manhyia Palace. Here, the revered Golden Stool (throne) is prominently displayed, serving as a focal point for the festivities. Large numbers of people converge to witness the spectacle, engaging in singing, dancing, and merriment.

The festival culminates in the king's durbar, where he interacts with his subjects and offers them the opportunity to shake hands. Prior to this, the king embarks on a procession in a palanquin adorned with gold jewelry, witnessing a colorful parade featuring drum beaters, folk dancers, horn-blowers, and singers. As a gesture of reverence to his ancestors, the king visits the Bantama Mausoleum, offering homage not only to their stools but also to their skeletal remains.

In essence, the Akwasidae Festival stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage and traditions of the Ashanti people, embodying a profound reverence for ancestry and community spirit. Through vibrant rituals and communal celebrations, this festival continues to serve as a cornerstone of Ashanti identity and unity, preserving age-old customs for generations to come.



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