Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, Osun State

The Osun Osogbo Shrine is one of the biggest shrines for the Yoruba people. It is location in southwest Nigeria, just outside the city of Osogbo.

There are countless artifacts scattered throughout abandoned Yorubaland. Sacred Groves were created by the Yoruba. These Sacred Groves were built in every town throughout the Yoruba communities. The Yoruba population numbers just under fifty million people. Over time many of these Sacred Groves were affected by the urbanization of local areas. Without continuous upkeep of the Sacred Groves, much of them are very hard to recognize. Osogbo is the capital of the Osun State. The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is located here. The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is still revered, and is the largest sacred grove to have survived.

The last remnants of the primary high forest is found in the dense forest of the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove. The grove is named after the river goddess Osun. forty shrines were built in the forest along the meandering river. These shrines included artworks and sculptures. Mostly created in the past forty years, the Osun Sacred Grove contains nine worship points, five sacred places and two palaces. The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is very different than most other groves throughout the Yoruba community. The Grove is “defended” by the goddess of entrepreneurship. Since it was built recently, it includes a large twentieth century sculpture. This was built to strengthen the connection between the Yoruba pantheon and people. In the Shrine there is a stone stool that is over five hundred years old.

The restoration of the grove had a major impact on the Yoruba people. The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is now the highest sacred grove for the Yoruba people. Monthly, daily, and weekly worship takes place at this grove. A festival that occurs every year takes place at the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove. This festival reconnects bonds between people of the town and the goddess. The festival lasts twelve days in July and August. The grove also has another very special role. Within the grove are around four hundred different species of plants. About two hundred of these plants are used in herbal medicine in the surrounding community. The grove is around seventy five hectares. “The sacred grove, which is now seen as a symbol of identity for all Yoruba people, is probably the last in Yoruba culture". The Yoruba folklore explains the goddess of fertility named Osun, and the story of Osun is very interesting. There was a fight between one of the wives of “Sango '' and Osun which led her to change herself into the River Osun. The deity is considered to live in the river which still makes the grove sacred. The grove is said to have been discovered by an elephant hunter. Osun then made a deal with the people which he vowed to protect the people only if they built a shrine for her and to also protect the grove. The belief in Osun and the shrine is very strong and deep within the Yoruba culture. Annually at a Osun festival, the amount of people that attend exceeds one hundred thousand. Many bring offerings and carry out sacrifices for Osun. If women were barren they would often visit the Osun shrine for blessings. The Grove was declared a national monument in 1965, and all 75 hectares are protected under the Nigerian Cultural Policy of 1988.

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