Adae Festival: Honoring Ashanti ancestral traditions

Stories and facts

The Adae Festival, known in Twi as "resting place," is a significant celebration in Ashanti, Ghana. It is regarded as the most important ancestral custom of the Ashanti people, symbolizing rest and reverence for ancestors.

Within a six-week cycle, the Adae Festival is celebrated twice: once on a Sunday (Akwasidae) and again on a Wednesday (Awukudae). This cycle repeats nine times a year. According to the Akan calendar, the ninth Adae Festival, called Adae Kese ("big Adae"), coincides with the New Year celebration, where thanks are given to the gods and ancestors for the new harvest. The festivals within Adae are fixed and not interchangeable, having been established since ancient times.

The preparations for the Adae Festival are elaborate and meticulous. The day of preparation is called Dapaa, usually falling on Tuesdays and Sundays. On Dapaa, homes and surrounding areas are thoroughly cleaned. In front of the chief's house, the "divine drummer" plays drums and sings ceremonial songs after paying respects to the chief. This continues from sunset until late at night. The chief partakes in a meal of yam or plantain, which is prepared without salt as it is believed that spirits dislike it. Following this, the chief and his entourage proceed to the chamber where the ceremonial stool (throne) is kept. The leftover food is then brought to the courtyard and sprinkled around as an offering to the spirits of ancestors, accompanied by the ringing of a bell to signify the spirits consuming the food.

The ritual continues with the chief's attendants sacrificing sheep, with the chief's forehead and chest marked with the blood of these sacrifices. The queen mother offers a paste of fufu (made from cassava or yam), and rum is poured over the stool. The remaining rum is consumed by those present in the chamber. The attendees greet the chief, who is seated ceremonially in the open courtyard, with the phrase "Adae morn." Other ceremonial elements include the court poet reciting poems extolling the deeds of past chiefs, and continuous drumming accompanied by horns. The celebration lasts until late into the night. The food and drink offerings to the stool are removed in the evening, except for the flesh, which remains for a longer period.

The Adae Festival is a profound expression of Ashanti culture, blending spirituality, tradition, and community in a vibrant and meaningful celebration.



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