The Durbar Festival
The Durbar Festival
The Durbar Festival is a colourful magnificent ceremony held annually in the northern part of Nigeria. The festival features various horse-riding performances by men from different cities across the north including Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Zazzau, Bauchi and Bida. The festival was originally associated with wartime allegiance, and a parade of horsemanship before the Emir to flaunt the readiness and loyalty of his regiments. Today, the Durbar Festival is a celebratory and vibrant event performed to celebrate Eid el-Kabir in a colourful way.
The festival features many interesting activities and part of the grandeur of the Durbar is the sheer visual feast of it all. The festival often begins with Islamic prayers, followed by a colorful parade of the Emir and his entourage on horses. The emir is often accompanied by musicians to the public square in front of his palace. Roaring muskets flash salutes as thousands of warrior horsemen race onto a dusty parade ground in front of the Emir’s palace, to mark the start of the festival.
The horses are regally adorned, draped festively in cobalt blue and blood red tapestried saddles, with gold fringes hanging from their ornate headgear. Horsemen clad in colorful robes, indigo turbans, ostrich feathers and glistening swords, gather to honor the Emir who enters the parade shielded from the sun by a massive twirling parasol.
The procession is strictly by more than one man who dresses in magnificent turbans mainly with one ear or two sticking out to show their royal lineage. Both young and old participate to ensure that the tradition is observed through generations.
During the celebration, all horsemen approach the viewing stands raising their fists and shouting “Ranka ya Dede”, proudly proceeding to the parade ground. The beautiful Rhythms of the talking and traditional drums fill the air with the shrill of trumpeters. Acrobats performers flip and catch one another while musicians and warriors riding brightly armored horses make their way to assemble along the parade grounds. When hundreds of horsemen are on the parade grounds, the Emir’s procession begins from the middle, including his guards, sons, wives, and camels. The Durbar Festival is often a beautiful sight to watch and experience.
Source; Nihotour Ibadan