Yoruba ceremony marks life change

Upon arrival at Priestess Iya Ohsun Monifs’ temple, it was decorated with fine African artwork and filled with people dressed in white. The tables showed a display of fruit and Brandon “Trooth” Hoillins was the center of it all.

Oct. 3, Hollins received his warriors, a symbol of the Orisha warrior god and goddess Ogun, Elegba, and Ochoosi. Hollins has practiced a traditional West African Yoruba religion for approximately a year and a half.

Prior to his conversion, he studied the religion for four years. The ceremony took place at Priestess Monifs’ sacred temple. Monif is also Hollins’ spiritual godmother.

The religion comes from Southwestern Nigeria and has been practiced for thousands of years. It centers on a Supreme Being, primordial divinities and spirits that have been defied.

In this ceremony, Hollins completed his second step to his elevation Iwa Pele, which is the ultimate goal. Iwa Pele means balanced character and is founded on patience, caution, composure, respect, knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

The first part of his journey consisted of Hollins receiving his beads of protection, called elekes. Attendees pray and greet their ancestors. After prayer, they sang a song to their ancestors, giving them acknowledgment and praise.

The ceremony continued with a sermon and a discussion about the Orisha warriors and how they served to protect Hollins. Hollins then knelt before his priestess and received his warriors.

The ceremony ended in prayer, testimonies and libation, when everyone gives thanks to their ancestors as well as the universe. This is followed by a communal song and dance inside a drum circle.

The religion is very family-oriented and welcoming, with the belief that homage must be paid to ancestors and future generations. Sitting in on Hollins’ ceremony was very interesting; it felt very tribal to see the drummers and the dancers who were filled with joy and song. This was a very powerful experience to witness.

It is important to know and understand some of the practices of our ancestors’ culture. We should acknowledge different cultures and customs. It makes us well-rounded and aware of our world.