The Mahi community in Benin celebrated this Monday 15 August, the yam festival. The events took place in Savalou in the department of the hills. Several ceremonies are organised on this occasion, to dedicate the first fruits of the yam to the deities before its consumption by the community. This act of humans towards the invisible is a sign of gratitude and a request for a good harvest for the coming year, explains Hounnongan Ayinahin Assogba Baba Agbakodjina, a dignitary of the vodun cult Thron Kpéto Déka Alafia, in an interview.
Dedication of the first harvest, a sign of gratitude to the deities.
Human beings have understood since the dawn of time that it is the invisible, almighty God who allows the rain, the sun and the wind to help the earth produce the elements we need for our life and survival. And when we manage to harvest and there is abundance, it is normal to be grateful to the almighty, to the invisible, to the deities, to the invisible egregore, before consuming what nature has allowed you to find.
One must present the first harvests in order to have the blessing of the invisible one who has made all these things favourable. And at the same time, one asks the earth, the deities, Sakpata (the entity that governs the earth) for a better harvest next year, to have enough granaries, which will mean having enough food and having individuals who are better off. This is not only a principle related to endogenous religions. Wherever you are on earth, there are many forms it can take. However, the principle remains.
Here in Africa, and particularly in Benin, we should note that we are at the end of the year. This is the end of the 12th month and we are moving towards the 13th month, which closes the year. And that is why the Guins will soon start their festival (Kpéssissô). Because they have actually understood that it is the new year that is starting. So this is when the yam is presented. Yam is just an example. Under other skies, one can take other products of the earth and present them to the invisible.
The yam, parallel to the human being and the earth is the representation of the woman.
If yam is chosen in Benin, it is not by accident. There is a parallel between yam and the human being. When the yam is put in the ground and goes into the bowels of the earth, it takes nine months for the new yam to emerge. The same is true for the human being who spends nine months in his mother’s womb before emerging.
Spiritualists know well that the earth is comparable to woman. This is why it is said that women rule earth. So there is also a parallel between the earth and a woman. The earth is ruled by the entity Sakpata and the queen of Sakpata is “Yonhoué Anannou” and she is the woman. So it is the woman who rules the earth.
A yam can represent a human being. It is in this parallel that we act on the mystical level and we have chosen yam.
Advice before eating the first yams.
When we talk about the yam festival, it does not mean that it should be eaten any old way. If you are from a region, wait for the first fruits to be given to the deities of your region first. If you have the Fá, feed it first to make the most of the new crop, it’s not just the yam. To benefit from the blessings for one’s family, prosperity and robust health, one must first of all give them to the deities. Whatever your religious orientation, learn to give the first fruits of what nature has given you. It is not necessarily yam. You can give money, millet or something else. One must thank the invisible for its graces before continuing. This has huge benefits.