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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Durbar Festival in Kano

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The Durbar is one of the most popular festivals in the northern part of Nigeria. The festival dates back hundreds of years to the time when the Emirate (state) in the north used horses in warfare to protect the state.

During this period, each town, district, and noble household was expected to contribute a regiment to the defense of the Emirate. Once or twice a year, the Emirate military chiefs invited the var­ious regiments for a Durbar (military parade) for the Emir and his chiefs...

Front entrance to the Emir of Kano's palace

During the parade, regiments would showcase their horsemanship, their preparedness for war and their loyalty to the Emirate. 

Today, Durbar has become a festival celebrated in honor of vis­iting Heads of State, other important dignitaries and at the culmination of the two big Muslim festivals, Id-el Fitri (commemorating the end of the holy month of Ramadan) and Ide-el Kabir (commemorating Prophet Ibrahim sacrificing a ram instead of his son)... 

The Durbar, especially the ones held in Kano and Katsina is usually a very spectacular and colorful event full of colour and pomp with lots of drumming, singing and dancing.

The Durbar often begins with processions of horsemen to the public square in front of the Emir’s palace, where each village group, district and noble house take their assigned place. Last to arrive is the Emir and his splendid retinue; they take up their place in front of the palace to receive the jahi, or homage, of their subjects...

The festival begins with each group racing across the square at full gallop, swords glinting in the sun. They pass just a few feet away from the Emir, then stop abruptly to salute him with raised swords.

 The Durbar, a wonderful sight to behold, especially the colourful and vibrant costumes of the horsemen and their horsemanship, is a major tourist attraction, which draws visitors from within and outside Nigeria.

Emir of Kano and his entourage

Contributed by Patience Saduwa, Blog Author

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