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Akwasidae

History

The Akwasidae Festival (alternate, Akwasiadae) is celebrated by the Ashanti people and chiefs in Ashanti,[1] as well as the Ashantidiaspora.[2] The festival is celebrated on a Sunday, once every six weeks.[1] The Akwasidae Festival is next only in importance to the National Day celebrations.[3]

The Akan annual calendar is divided into nine parts, each lasting approximately six weeks but varying between 40–42 days in a period; the celebration of this period is called the Adae Festival. The Adae Festival has two celebration days: the Akwasidae Festival is celebrated on the final Sunday of the period, while the Awukudae Festival is celebrated on a Wednesday within the period. The Friday preceding 10 days to the Akwasidae is called the Fofie (meaning a ritual Friday). As the festival is always held on Sundays (Twi in Kwasidae), its recurrence could be after 40 or 42 days in accordance with the official Calendar of Ashanti. During the last Akwasidae of the year, which coincides with the Adae Kese Festival, special attention is given to make food offerings and donations fo The rites on this day relate to honouring personal and community ancestors. A gathering called Akom occurs in which drumming, dancing and singing are a normal celebration to honour Abosom (lesser gods in the Akan tradition) and Nsamanfo (spiritually cultivated ancestors). Food offerings include special items such as eto (mashed African yam), garnished with hard-boiled eggs. Every Ashanti celebrates this festival.[2] For those Ashanti who do not observe the festival of Odwira, the Akwasidae is very important to commemorate their ancestors.[5]

HOW IT IS CELEBRATED

On this day, the Asantehene (King of Ashante) meets his subjects and subordinate chiefs in the courtyard of the Manhyia Palace.[6] The Golden Stool (throne) is displayed at the palace grounds in the presence of the king, and people visit in large numbers, singing and dancing.[7] The king holds his durbar on the occasion of the festival, and people have the liberty to shake hands with him. Before holding the durbar, the king goes in a procession in a palanquin decorated with gold jewelery. He also witnesses a colourful parade, from his palace grounds at Kumasi. Participants of the parade include drum beaters, folk dancers, horn-blowers and singers.[8] As it is festival of paying respect to ancestors, the king visits the Bantama Mausoleum and offers worship not only to his ancestors’ chairs (stools), but also to the skeletal remains of his ancestors.[8] It is argued that, the king do not worship the stools and the ancestors, however to pay them homage. A main component of the ritual is the golden stool. The golden stool is the symbol of the Ashanti unity, and it is believed that the golden stool contains the spirit of all Ashanti both dead and living. This is an occasion to pay homage to the Ashantihene.