Durbar Festival which is known in northern Nigeria as Hawan Sallah “the mounting of the horses” (sallah from the Arabic word salat, meaning prayer) or Hawan Idi (mounting of the horses on the Eid—Muslim festival), supporting an equestrian tradition that can be found in cities throughout northern Nigeria today. In the predominately Muslim north, cities, such as Bida, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto, Yola, and Zaria are known for these celebrations, particularly after Ramadan, Eid el-Fitr—festival of breaking the fast—and Eid el Adha, festival of the sacrifice. A procession of horsemen comprised of traditional rulers, district heads and title holders along with acrobats, and musicians assemble to parade in front of the emirs’ palaces and through the city to pay homage to the traditional ruler. In Bida, seat of the Nupe Kingdom, various activities of horse riding, parades, musical entertainment, begin with the special prayer that commemorates the end of Ramadan.
In Bida the Eid el-Fitr celebrations begin Day 1 after Ramadan when the Etsu Nupe and his entourage ride horseback to the parade grounds to perform Eid Sallah, a special prayer that commemorates the end of Ramadan. The Etsu Nupe and the entire Bida community pray together.
The slideshow presents some photos taken on Day 1 when the Etsu Nupe went through the streets of Bida in celebration of the end of Ramadan.
The Hawan Sallah dates back to when horses were used in warfare to protect an emirate. Each noble household was expected to defend the emirate by forming a regiment. Once a year, the regiments would gather for a military parade to demonstrate allegiance to the traditional ruler, by showcasing their horsemanship, readiness for war, and loyalty. The chief cavalry officer known as Madawaki takes charge of war activities, especially that to do with horses.
Day 2 of Eid el-Fitr The community came to the palace to greet the Etsu Nupe and congratulate him for the month of Ramadan. Each person was introduced by name.
An afternoon of reciting the Quran, music, dancing and stand-up comedy was enjoyed by all.
Hawan Barika – Day 5 The last day of celebrating Eid el-Fitr. Hawan Bariki is the day when the Etsu Nupe rides his horse through all the districts of Bida and visit the royal, ruling houses. Also during colonial times, the Etsu would ride with this entourage to the district officer to formally close the celebrations of Eid el-Fitr. The following video, outstandingly, represents the day .
Portraits of a Parade
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