The anxiety surrounding the demise of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade, has continued to heighten as worshippers of Oro began the annual festival in the ancient town on Friday night.
Oro is a deity worshipped across Yoruba land, which forbids the womenfolk from going outdoors in the night during the period of its festival.
Although, sources in Ife told the Punch that the festival, scheduled to commence on Friday night had nothing to do with the demise of the Ooni, the public believe otherwise.
The sources, however, insisted that the festival, which would last for seven nights, should not be mistaken for the commencement of the rites of passage of the Ooni.
They also insisted that the Ooni was still alive, contrary to the media reports that the monarch died in the United Kingdom.
Although some youths interviewed said they were not aware of the festival, they said the festival would force everybody to remain indoors at night throughout the seven- day period.
A former Commissioner for Culture and Tourism in Osun State, Mr. Sikiru Ayedun, confirmed to reports that the festival would start on Friday night.
Ayedun, who is from Ife, said, “Yes, Oro will start tonight (Friday). But it has nothing to do with the rumour of the death of Baba (Ooni).
“It is an annual festival and it holds around this time. So, it has nothing to do with the rumour in town.”
The news of the death of the Ooni was reported by the media on Wednesday, but the 16 chiefs, known as the Royal Traditional Council of the palace, led by the Lowa of Ife, Oba Joseph Ijaodola, debunked the news.
The Lowa also led the chiefs to announce to Governor Rauf Aregbesola on Thursday that the monarch was alive and not dead.