The things of life are mysterious and difficult to understand. It cannot be explained in one way. You are also not fully capable of comprehending life. People who try to comprehend life and its sinister secrets often become a study case in life’s secrecy.
If you believe you understand life today, another discovery that comes to light in a minute will reveal how little you actually know about it. Despite how mysterious life can seem, there are some aspects that can be taught and comprehended.
WITHIN NIGERIA visited the historic city of Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, in an effort to learn new things about life and most importantly, ELERIKO – Female masquerade who heads heavenly associations.
From the mosque in Oja-Oba, the reporter’s car sped towards Sabo before making a right turn. Oluomo Oluseyi Atanda, the Ajana Awo and Chairman of Traditional Religion Worshippers Association of Osun State (TRWASO) was waiting for this reporter at the top of a large building painted purple after a sharp bend to the left (Adelabu fuel station).
In Yoruba, are women allowed to wear masks? Why a female disguise called “Eleriko”? These are the thoughts that are racing through the reporter’s worried head as he waits impatiently for Dr. Oluseyi Atanda, who was attending to some guests in his inner chamber.
The reporter has read about the Yoruba masquerades Oladunwo (Okemesi masquerade), Alapansanpa (a brave one who visits the Olubadan palace every year), Atipako (a load-carrier – mortal, pestle, and stones), Agemo (Ijebu masquerade), and others.
Even though the only way a masquerade is complete is if the person wearing the custom is unknown, research has shown that men are more likely to wear them. This reporter once more questioned why Eleriko is a female masquerade.
The reporter was invited inside the chamber by one of the ifa priests. He felt more at ease and certain that his queries would be answered once he saw Dr. Oluseyi Atanda, dressed in white.
ELERIKO – A diety whose alter ego is a female masquerade.
Babalawo Atanda responded to WITHIN NIGERIA’s inquiry about Eleriko’s origin by stating that heavenly associations exist in addition to earthly ones. Elegbe omo, Elere omo, Alara Igbo, Olorire Omo, and Kori, as affectionately referred to by Ijebus, are only a few of the associations’ various names.
Eleriko and Iyalode are two associations’ masquerades that are available. But Eleriko, Iyalode, and other masqueraders differ from them in that they wear feminine attire. They carry women’s luggage, wear women’s clothing, braid their hair, and tie gele.
Babalawo Atanda revealed that Eleriko is a head of a group or association by citing a specific Ifa verse that reads, “Kankatua kankatua adifa fun eleriko eleyi ti n se olori egbe.” He continued the ifa verse by addressing Eleriko, a female masquerader, as an alter ego, stating, “ki la mu fi se osun fun olori egbe, iborun egbeje gele egbefa la mu fi se olori egbe.”
Babalawo Atanda asserted that there are many Elerikos and that their existence is not limited to any one society, organization, or person. He also said that anyone who has heavenly mates is free to organize, honor, or respect Eleriko as a deity or as the head of his or her heavenly mates.
Addressing Eleriko as a diety, Babalawo used a specific Ifa poem that reads, “Lebelebe so lebelebe, lebelebe so lebelebe adifa fun ile to n sunkun pe ohun o bimo igba ti yoo bi o bi igba imole, igba ti yoo bi o bi erinwo imole nje igba imole e ba wa se Erinwo imole e ba wa se ere.
Eleriko is one of the more than 400 deities, according to records, that Olodumare sent to earth to carry out his word. He continued by saying that dieties never referred to themselves as ‘Gods’ nor humans who venerate them in an outright manner. We only revere or adore those deities that include Eleriko in our worship of Eledumare.
WHO IS YOUR ELERIKO?
Being a part of the heavenly group is a must for knowing your eleriko. The head of every heavenly group, Eleriko, is only available to heavenly mates.
When asked how to tell whether someone is a part of the heavenly group, Babalawo Atanda responded to WITHIN NIGERIA that the only way to tell if someone is a part of the heavenly group is by ifa divination, trance or dream, disappearance or loss of personal goods, failed businesses, misuse or mismanagement of cash, among other things.
Babalawo Atanda emphasized that individuals who observe Eleriko were instructed or urged to do so by Ifa. You might invite your heavenly companions, close friends, and coworkers to join you in honoring Eleriko.
We’ve seen instances where individuals learn of their membership in a group in heavens while attending an event or while in a trance.
If you belong to heavenly mates, you will undoubtedly run into other members and take part in the devotion of Eleriko, the head of your heavenly group, he continued.
Babalawo Atanda revealed that not all heavenly mates have companions (spouses) when asked about those tormented by heavenly companions (Oko-Orun and Iyawo Orun). Reconciliation and other tactics, as well as appeasement, can be used to settle the problem of distressed heavenly partners by their companions.
After discovering or affirming through ifa divination that you’re an Elere Omo (heavenly mate), you can revere Eleriko with your family, friends, and other mates as a member of the heavenly group. Babalawos are aware of procedures or practices that are used to venerate Eleriko, he continued.
WHY DO HEAVENLY MATES VENERATE ELERIKO?
In order to reiterate that traditional Worshippers revere dieties but only worship Eledumare, the genuine God, Babalawo Atanda highlighted a specific Ifa scripture that reads, “Isa n sa mejeeji ni lu ara won je jeeje, osa meji osa eleye. Adifa fun egbe aye, a bu fun egbe orun nigbati won ti ikole orun bo wa si isalu aye. Nje borokini orun e gbami e ma je ki n te, nje borokini orun ni ki je ki taye o te.
Babalawo Atanda claimed that Eledumare created creatures from a variety of infinitely numerous manifestations in the skies, while we all held the belief that Eledumare created everything.
He emphasized further that Ifa had said that some people on earth had previously existed in groups in the heavens. Babalawo Atanda used the formation of groups on earth as an illustration for the existence of groups in the heavenly realms.
We revere Eleriko, the heavenly mates’ leader, since we don’t want to be left behind. We worship Eleriko to express our gratitude for past assistance and to request additional supports from our heavenly companions.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ELERIKO AND OTHER DEITIES
When asked if their exists a connection between “eleriko” and other gods, Babalawo Atanda said that there is.
‘No deity exists alone. These deities all came from above and they also co-exist or work together. No deity has monopoly of power but specifics. Eleriko is a female deity’, he added.
Osun is a female deity too. So Eleriko has relationship with female deities. These gods include the Osun goddess, Erinle, and other gods associated with water bodies’.
If we make a sacrifice for a heavenly mate here in Osogbo, it is either taken to River Osun, the River Erinle, or another nearby flowing river. Eleriko and other gods have a relationship like that, he said.
ITEMS USED IN PREPARATION OF SACRIFICE FOR ELERIKO
Babalawo Atanda told the reporter that food items like Sugar cane, Ekuru, Eko, Amala, Adun, Sugar cubes, Pineapples, Oranges, Popcorns, Pawpaw, cowries among others.
In response to the question of how these sacrificial items would be placed in the calabash or if they would be placed at all, Babalawo Atanda stated that there is a specific order for the sacrifice preparation that he refers to as a Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) and that this order can only be learnt or taught.
IS ELERIKO TRULY A ‘FEMALE’ MASQUERADE?
According to Babalawo Atanda, ‘Eleriko’ is a feminine masquerade, however it is typically worn by a guy who dresses like a woman since he finds himself in the female-dominated society.
Babalawo Atanda emphasized that Eleriko was born as a man in the earthly manifestations, despite being a lady in the world of heavenly partners and leaders.
He continued by saying that numerous folks also had stories to tell. On Earth, there are some guys who naturally behave like women and vice versa.
Men dress as Eleriko, the leader of the heavenly partners, during the festival of “Eleriko” because women are not allowed to wear masquerades.
In actuality, nobody discusses the participants in a masquerade’s ritual. Nobody can tell who is wearing the mask. We don’t worry about the identity of masquerades since we think they are from heaven. Eleriko is a woman in a mask. It doesn’t matter who carries it. It has to do with alter egos.
The Eleriko masquerade custom features areas that can accommodate breasts and occasionally hips, so anyone wearing it would resemble a lady.
The alter personality who wishes to wear the Eleriko’s custom must complete certain procedures, such as spiritual cleaning, before the celebration can begin, which is required of all heavenly mates, including the alter personality.
Babalawo Atanda only spoke of the flinging of kolanuts and spiritual cleansing when further pressed about these traditions, choosing to remain silent about the rest.
After expressing gratitude to Oluomo Oluseyi Atanda, the Ajana Awo and head of the Traditional Religion Worshippers Association of Osun State (TRWASO), the reporter left the area.
What group in heaven am I part of? Have I found a mate in heaven? Who is my Eleriko? The reporter waved goodbye to Ajana Awo as these ideas whirled through his head.