By VICTOR ADEOTI
OSOGBO- Tourists, devotees as well as cultural enthusiasts from across the globe are trooping into the ancient city of Osogbo to join the fiesta marking the grand finale of the annual Osun Osogbo festival.
A correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) covering the festival reports that it had always given a boost to socio- economic activities in the Osun capital and its environs.
NAN reports that as early as 8.am, many Osun devotees were sighted singing and dancing on major roads in the city centre while others exhibited some cultural artifacts near the Osun grove.
Many devotees were also seen carrying plastic bottles and kegs and moving to the Osun River to fetch some water for spiritual purposes.
The state government had, however, warned devotees not to drink the water from the river as it had been contaminated.
NAN correspondent also sighted some masqueraders chanting incantations while shooting sporadically into the air with their dane guns to the admiration of onlookers.
Security personnel, including those of the NSCDC and Nigerian Police as well as FRSC were positioned at strategic locations within the capital city to ensure law and order as well as ease human and vehicular movement.
NAN further reports that food and souvenir vendors took advantage of the influx of visitors to make brisk business.
The event, which started on Aug.1 is expected to end on Friday with a young maiden, Arugba, who will carry a calabash on her head as a symbolic sacrifice to the river goddess.
According to the Curator and Site Manager of Osun Osogbo Grove, Mr Adekunle Fatai, no fewer than 60,000 devotees and tourists are expected at the grand finale.
The Osun-Osogbo festival, whose history dates back to many centuries, is usually celebrated in an ancient grove believed to be among the last of the sacred forests still remaining among Yoruba cities.
In recognition of its global significance and cultural value, the Sacred Grove was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
NAN further reports that for the people of Osogbo land, the annual festival symbolises the traditional cleansing of the town and cultural reunion of the people with their ancestors and founders of Osogbo Kingdom. (NAN)