Odunfa is the ritual re-enactment of various episodes in the life of Orunmila. In this regard, it might be described as ritual theatre. In particular, the sacred text of Ifa teaches us that Orunmila had been working ceaselessly all year long. He was healing the sick, providing for the poor, resolving disputes and empowering the disenfranchised. As a result of his devotion to service, Orunmila didn't even have the opportunity to bathe.
At that time, Orunmila was also seeking to marry three princesses. He wanted to marry Ogbonse, the Princess of Ilara, Ogbonnu, the Princess of Ijero, and Owesemubokin, the Princess of Iseyin. As fate would have it, the three princesses arrived Orunmila's home at the same time, only to find him in a very untidy condition. Because of the grime covering him at the time, they quickly turned to walk away from Orunmila and return to their fathers' homes.
Orunmila, however, called out to them; "Why have you turned away?" The Princesses responded in unison; "We have turned away because you have not taken a bath! You're not looking very nice!" Orunmila quickly said to them; "Please wait! Don't turn away. I will take my bath!"
And so it was that Orunmila went to take his yearly spiritual bath in specially-prepared herbs, accompanied by chants, music and songs. This tradition is repeated annually at the Odunfa by all Ifa devotees, wherever they are found.
At the Odunfa: Ifa Festival of Oakland, we will honor this time-tested tradition by washing Obafemi Origunwa's Ifa in the same way that Orunmila bathed in times of antiquity. Please join us in prayer and celebration of this ritual dramatization of purification, tolerance and unity.