Ghanaian culture is a very rich one, full of traditions, ceremonies, cultural events as well as religious acts and shrines. All are celebrated with the intention of highlighting an important milestone in life. Today we bring you a list of the most traditional ghanaian ceremonies that you should attend at least once if you really want to immerse yourself in the local culture.

Naming ceremony & traditional blessings

As the name already suggests, the ghanaian naming ceremony is where a name is given, in this case to a newborn baby. Children are very important in any Ghanaian’s life, they are considered to be a gift from God – a true blessing. At birth, the child is given various names, its maiden name and also a day name based upon the day of the week on which the child was born.

Traditional blessings are part of various ceremonies; naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals, etc. They are given by the traditional leader who is leading the ceremony. The leader is chosen by the family. Depending on the occasion the message communicated through the blessing will differ.

So for example, in a naming ceremony the blessing will be to wish long life, prosperity and guidance. On the other hand, the blessing in a funeral will be to wish a peaceful farewell.

Libation

Libation is a form of prayer to the gods and the ancestors that entails pouring a liquid as an offering to a spirit, deity, or soul of a person who is deceased. This can happen during casual social settings or big milestone moments, such as weddings.

Ancestors are a big part of Ghanaian culture and during libation ceremonies is when they (as well as gods and God) are invited to participate. The ritual is generally performed by an elder who will pour an alcoholic beverage such as palm wine. Water tends to be used as well or in places like Volta Region, they also use water with a mixture of corn flour.

The libation ceremony has been performed for many many years. It aso existed in Egypt, Israel, South America, Rome, Greece and Asia. The recurring theme in these parts of the world is honoring Earth, holy figures and those that have passed. In West African cultures, libation is also recognised as the break within a West African dance performance ritual called Agbekor.

You will also witness libations at some traditional Ghanaian festivals like Asafotu and Homowo of the Ga Adangbe people of Ghana and Togo, at traditional marriages, when a child is born and at funerals.

Festivals

Festivals are held throughout Ghana to celebrate African history. Each ethnic group in Ghana has its own festivals. For example, the Ga have a festival called the Homowo festival which literally means “hooting at hunger” a way to tell hunger to leave because they will not go hungry again!

The Oguaa also have a very big festival in Ghana called Fetu Afahye which is celebrated to keep the town of Cape Coast clean and to prevent another epidemic befalling the people.

Twins “Ye Yee Ye” Festival – Ga twin celebration

As part of the region’s month-long Homowo celebrations which we mentioned above, this is a celebration to twins, traditionally believed to bring good luck. Dressed in white calico, local twins parade through the town to the spiritual house of the Ga Mashie. It truly is a sight to behold.

Funerals

In Ghana the deceased are “celebrated”. These are very special occasions because not only is it a farewell to the ones that left but it’s also a way to display culture, traditions and customs. If you are not familiar with a Ghanaian funeral, you may mistake it with a party because it’s accompanied by very loud music, a DJ, dancing, and a lot of food.

You can spot a funeral specially by the type of clothing and the color of the clothes. If it’s an elderly person who has died (let’s say in their 80s or 90s), attendees will be wearing white & black traditional attire because it’s seen as a celebration to someone who has lived life for so many years.

On the other hand, if you see black & red, it means that the deceased has left not because of old age, but any other reason, so the clothing is darker. If you have been invited to a Ghanaian funeral or are planning to attend one, make sure you inform yourself about a few things before so you don’t feel uncomfortable or confused. Learn more about funerals in Ghana and the famous dancing pallbearers.

Durbar of chiefs

Each community in Accra has a chief. The chiefs are leaders of the community who have very good knowledge about the history of the people and have very deep knowledge about the territory/community they have power off. The durbar of chiefs is a display of these chiefs and their court leading to an exciting celebration full of drumming, dancing and traditional libations and blessings.

Door of Return

The door of return is related to slavery days. This was the door through which slaves passed through and would never see their homeland again.

The Door of Return ceremonies are offered to the Diaspora and can be very emotional. It’s a way to celebrate “re-entering” the motherland. They recognised the person as a descendant of an ancestor who passed through this door.

While they re-enter this same door, prayers are offered to the person and their ancestors. This was a big activity during the Year of Return and Beyond the return.

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