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Published On: Sat, Jun 19th, 2021

Why Urhobo Community Of Orogun Worships Iguana And Dog


LAGOS JUNE 19TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Whenever you visit Orogun King in Delta State, specifically Ughelli North LGA, don’t ever kill or eat Varanus salvadorii, also called artellia, crocodile monitor or iguana It is the largest species of monitor lizards and one of the longest lizards in the world.
The reptile which can be as long as eight feet, is a very sacred animal in the Orogun Kingdom of Ughelli North local government area of Delta State.

On every good day, iguana that have become very famous in the region will always be found strolling comfortably along the roads and neighborhoods of all the towns in the Orogun kingdom. This is because the animal is an object of worship that must not be killed, hunted, or eaten by anyone in that kingdom. There is a belief that any indigene that kills or eats the animal will be afflicted with a strange ailment which always leads to death if the necessary sacrifices are not made.
Though the animal is a popular delicacy in many parts of the country, no stranger is permitted to kill the animal in the presence of any Orogun person. If an Orogun man is any place where it is killed, he will be willing to pay any amount to buy the dead animal and then burry it according to traditional rites.
Iguana is however not the only sacred animal in the Orogun Kingdom. The dog is also a very sacred animal which must also not be killed or eaten within the kingdom. No child of the kingdom is permitted to come in contact with the body fluid of a dog. They must, as a matter of fact, never step their foot on the coal that was used to cook a dog.
According to the ancient history of the kingdom, these two animals at different times rendered great help to the kingdom, hence the reason why they are reverenced as sacred animals. If you are privileged to visit Orogun, what will you do when you see wonderful delicacies strolling the streets untouched?
Facts Surrounding The Two Animals

The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. Tradition is part of the culture of a people and how it affects the way they live, interact, marry and bury their dead. And tradition, the die-hard people find it very difficult to abandon even if they are confronted with new facts and technology in the modern days.
The #Orogun people are good example of a people who are clinging to their old ways of life; they believe that iguana has extra-ordinary powers. They worship it and, forbid any indigene from eating it, no matter the situation. They believe that the reptile saved them during communal wars with other tribes, and also saves them from any kind of danger in present time.
Orogun kingdom is one of the numerous kingdoms that make up the Urhobo nation spread across Delta, Bayelsa and other states in Nigeria. Orogun kingdom is in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State with population of over 50,000 people.
For some time now people still wonder why the Orogun people still worship the Iguana. Other people think the Orogun people are wasting what they could have used for food in the name of worshipping iguana.
Orogun is made up of five quarters, namely; Umusu, Unukpo, Imodje, Ogwa and Emonu. The sacred animals in Orogun is not just iguanas alone but dogs and tigers.
According to an elder in the community. “These animals, mentioned, we adore them from time immemorial, most especially the iguana #Igborigbo, right from time immemorial, any son or daughter of Orogun kingdom does not eat iguana, dog and tiger because Orogun as a male who got married to a woman named Orhiara and #Orhiara was one of the female children of Owhowha.
Continuing…..the elder said, One day, Orhiara went to the farm and during work at the farm, she was thirsty and went in search of water to drink when she saw a colony of iguana at the place of water, climbing each other and was amazed so she went back home to tell her husband about what she (Orhiara) saw at the water place. The husband, Orogun followed her to the scene to see for himself, adding, a voice came from the iguana that the animals you see are sacred and this place you are should be a shrine. That is why our shrine is at that place till date. We call the shrine #Erosefe or Orhiara shrine.”
However, the benefits of worshipping the iguana as explained by the elder; “the man named Orogun was a warrior and at times when he was chased at the battlefield by his enemies, he got to a river and there was no way to cross, it was there the gods of the land came up through the iguanas. The iguanas formed a bridge across the river and Orogun and his children walked on top of the iguanas till they all crossed to the other side. When the enemies chasing after them got to the river, the iguanas had disengaged. So the enemies could not cross the river to chase after Orogun and his children any longer. Since that time till date we don’t eat iguana, if you do, your skin will turn like that of an iguana, unless you go and appease the gods. Even if you go to the best hospital in the world, it will not heal. The person must eventually die.
For the dog serves as an errand agent to us, he continues, the moment it senses danger, it will pass the information to us. This is the story of centuries ago passed down to us. The tiger or lion are also sacred to us. Any Orogun indigene that kills or eatss these animals without appeasing the gods will surely die.
The benefits of keeping the iguanas sacred in the modern life are enormous. The communication between us and the shrine known as Erosefe is the iguana because when it appeared, the Erosefe itself decorates itself with the iguanas. Apart from the war aspect, if an Orogun man is travelling, should anything bad will happen, the iguana will appear. If you are driving and because we mare forbided, once you see it you have to wait for it to pass and that too signifies danger ahead.”
Finally one aspect of the entire story we really got to know is the part where the elder concluded with. “The Erosefe itself is not a man-made image, it appears on its own. If we go there now, you will not see anything, it is only the ordinary ground you will see but when it is festival period, it will be happy so the ordinary ground will rise like a mountain. Believe me or not this is the symbolic part that makes us to respect and worship it. If it were man-made, it could have gone out of the kingdom long ago.”

Copied from Opera News & Mouth Piece Of Urhobo

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