The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts by Baba Ifa Karade

The Handbook of Yoruba Religious Concepts by Baba Ifa Karade

Author:Baba Ifa Karade
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9781633411340
Publisher: Red Wheel Weiser

Ojubo: Sacred Places of Worship

The Yoruba refer to sacred places mainly as ojubo (the place of worship). If the place of worship is for an oria, it's called ile oria or oju oria. If it's for the ancestors—an ancestral shrine or altar—then it's called oju egun. The major understanding that needs to be reached is, as Awolalu states, “The multiplicity of shrines stresses the fact that a shrine isn't a permanent or only abode of a divinity. . . . When the divinity is invoked, it is believed that the divinity will be present to meet with worshippers [regardless of the locale] to receive their prayers and offerings, and to bless them.”10

Aboria (devotees) generally present offerings as they pray to the orias. Ile (temples, or “houses,” as they're known in the New World) contain the shrines of a particular or group of oria. Devotees attend the temples and are serviced by the priestly orders in the way of prayers, offerings, sacrifices, and ritual. Yet, as earlier stated, prayers and offerings need not be done solely at temple shrines; they may be done at the natural site of oria essence. The earth or Onile itself is viewed as a shrine in this respect. Devotees may religiously seek the orias from this perspective as well.

Yoruba forms of placing the body in positions of reverence are called foribale. Moforibale (I place my head to the earth) is the term that is solemnly uttered by devotees when homage is paid to the ancestors, orias, or priests or priestesses. Males and females foribale differently, but this is not a gender statement. If the devotee has a female oria as a “crown oria,” then foribale is done in a particular way. If the devotee has a male oria as a “crown oria,” then another way of foribale is designated. It's the gender of one's oria that determines the foribale, not that of the person.

Prostration or lying down in prone position with the forehead on the floor in front of the ojubo (shrine) or an elegun (person) mounted or possessed by an oria most commonly done by those who have male oria, while those who have female oria place the right hip and elbow to the ground while putting the head on the right hand and then switching sides. All devotees prostrate themselves before queens, kings, chiefs, drummers, priests, those possessed, and babalawos. Or they kneel slightly, touching the right hand to the floor or ground. Added to this is yikaa (shoulder-to-shoulder greeting among the priests/priestesses)—three times: right, left, right—or among the iyawos—two times: right, left. Then there's kunle (kneeling in front of the shrine or elder person as a position of reverence, respect, and homage).

The emphasis of prayer is the opening of one's heart to sincerity of devotion and one's mind to the way of an eniyan gidi (authentic human being). The physical position taken is of secondary importance.


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