The Eke market day in Igbo land is a unique market day in Igbo tradition among all other market days simply because some many cultural activities are restricted on this very market day. However, we cannot talk about the Eke market day without referencing the other market days in Igbo land though will be elaborating more on the Eke market day which is the main focal point of this discussion.
Eke Market Day-Igbo 4 Market Days
The four market days in Igbo land are:
- The Eke market day represents fire, the creator.
- The Afor means the earth, land or stomach.
- The Orie means water-the water of life.
- Nkwo represents the air that we breathe.
In every living society, human inhabitants cannot survive without the above-mentioned essentials of life. Human beings cannot do without a fire, we survive on the land, drink to satisfy the taste and breathe the air of life. Thus, the four market days in Igbo land represent the above.
The Eke Market Day-The Igbo Calendar
The cultural activities of the Igbos revolve around their four market days with much attention to the Eke market day. The Igbo Calendar just like the calendar that is generally used by the world today which is the Gregorian calendar where there are 7 days a week and 30days or 31 days in a month meanwhile not every country of the world makes use of this Gegorian calendar because I am currently living in Saudi Arabia and their calendar varies just like China also makes use of the Lunar calendar so does the Igbo people Igbo have their own calendar.
In the Igbo calendar, 4 days make one week and 7 weeks make one month which is 28 days that make one month in the Igbo calendar. Interestingly, every cultural and social ceremony or festivals that happen in Igbo land are planned around 4 weekdays in Igbo culture which are the 4 market days the Eke, Afor, Orie and Nkwo.
The Eke Market Day-The Significance
Talking about the don’ts on the Eke market day, what you are not allowed to do on the most vulnerable day in Igbo tradition which is the Eke market day. Basically, the Eke market day is a special market day in Igbo land. It’s a special day of the holiday just like our contemporary Sunday and it can also be referred to as the ”eke kere uwa” that’s (the creator of the universe, the maker of the world). This is why you see the elders in the villages waking up in the morning to pour libations to the gods or to make prayer requests to the gods of the land. You may have heard them making prayer requests such as:
”may Eke bring good things on our land. may Eke be fruitful to our children, may Eke be prosperous to us, may it bless our farm produce” and so on.
These are basically what the elders in Igbo land always say each time they make prayer requests to the gods of their land either on Eke Market day or during any other market day.
Major Don’ts On The Eke Market Day
The Eke market day being a unique day in Igbo land, no one is allowed to contract marriage, pay bride price or perform dowry rites on this special day. For instance, on the 9th of January 2021, a cousin sister of mine had her traditional marriage and white wedding in my village in Atta Orlu, Imo state. Her marriage was held on the Nkwo market day, a market day preceding the almighty Eke market day. So when it was 6:pm on the same Nkwo market day, everyone was asked to disperse, all the canopies dismounted, the reason being that the Eke market day has entered therefore the marriage ceremony declared over! Notably, Her husband was asked not to take her home because it is prohibited to take your wife home on Eke market day hence he was also advised to sleep over in his in-law’s house. This is because it is believed that taking a wife to his husband’s home on the Eke market day may attract some sort of bad omen or ill-luck to their marriage probably a fruitless marriage or otherwise.
Moreover, this is arguably a staunch tradition in Igbo culture as I am also a witness to such an event while I was much younger probably in high school. There were these in-laws coming to marry from my village from Enugu state. On their way coming to my village in Imo State their bus broke down and they couldn’t arrive on time, unfortunately, Eke entered at 6:pm. The MC announced that everyone should start leaving the venue, that the marriage cannot go on because Eke has entered. Funny enough we had to enjoy the rice and drinks. Eke probably did not stop us from enjoying item-7 LOL! I cannot say precisely what happened afterwards but even if they arrive at 8 p.m, they cannot continue with that marriage processes because Eke has entered. So, Eke, is a special holy day that no one is allowed to contract marriage at any levels including introductory rites are not allowed. You may also watch the video version on this topic by clicking on this The don’ts on Eke market day/Igbo four market days/Igbo Calendar
Secondly, It is prohibited to organize any form of funerals or burial ceremonies on Eke market day especially for those who are octogenarians-these are older people in their ’80s. Though I believe this is generally done for the older adults in every tradition. However, a responsible adult cannot just be buried anyhow talk more of on Eke market day, unless the person did not have children or those that would organize and offer them a benefiting funeral. In another rear occasion where someone would be buried immediately or on any market day in Igbo land is in a situation whereby the deceased committed suicide or discrete the established tradition of the land which is regarded as an abomination. In that case, the person is being buried immediately regardless of the market day or thrown into the evil forest. However, carrying out a funeral on Eke market day is considered a big abomination in Igbo tradition.
Moreover, people are not allowed to go to the farm on Eke market day because there’s this common notion that any crop planted on the Eke market day will not be fruitful or would remain stunted in growth hence no one goes farming on Eke market day in Igbo tradition.
There’s also this ideology that women are not allowed to sell land or possess landed property. This however may support the reason why women do not have shares in their fathers’ properties or wills in Igbo culture. Sadly, it is generally believed that women are another men’s ”property”. This is so wrong and myopic sort of conception about the women in Igbo culture because most women now work very hard as much as their male counterparts.
Meanwhile, their justification that a woman is prohibited to sell or possess a landed property is rooted in the concept of the Afor market day which means the following: ‘‘the land, the stomach and the earth”. It is traditionally believed that it is the land that makes the woman fruitful therefore the woman does not in turn sell that same land that blesses her with fruitfulness. In other words, she should always be thankful for the land that makes her conceives and bears fruits in form of humans. Hence it is also believed that women came from the dust and to the dust do they return. This however left me wondered if men do not come from the dust or returning to the mother earth too?. Though, modernization has recently affected changes to most of these oral traditions. Women can now buy and possess landed property.
In the time past, giving birth to a child on Eke market is also considered an abomination. The parents of the baby born on Eke market day are mandated to sacrifice the child to the gods of the land as it is forbidden. Many thanks to modernization that has affected so many changes to the ancient way of life in Igbo culture.
Lastly, if you are married to an Igbo man, you dare not leave your marriage or your husband’s house on Eke market day probably you had a discrepancy or misunderstanding with your husband and you decided to move your luggage out of his house on Eke market. By leaving on this unique market day you have said a final goodbye to your marriage although, there could be some traditional rites to carry out before you may return should you and your husband decide coming back together.
In any case, oral tradition should be respected because society won’t function effectively without these laid down traditions. This is why every culture, every race or society have norms or laws which the citizens or people must be abided by else the society remains lawless and insecure for its habitants. All these norms are basically human-made, and they keep changing as times evolve.
The Eke market day is undisputably a special market day in Igbo land. It is synonymous with the contemporary Sunday but funny enough people go to the market in Igbo land on Eke market day though, different communities have their heavy or busiest market days outside the Eke market day. In my village, the Afor Atta market is the heaviest market day while in my husband’s community in Owerri North, their’s is the Orie Obibie market day and the busiest market day in your community might be certainly different probably the Nkwo or Eke markett day as the case may be.
One unique fact to note is this, our mothers or fathers who go to the market on the Eke market day usually prepare whatever they are going to be selling on that Eke market on the market day preceding the Eke market day which is the Nkwo market day. They do not go to their farmlands to get farm produce for sell on that same Eke market day. They would go on the evening of the Nkwo market day to put all those things together. In that way, they will have observed the rule of not going to the farm on the Eke market day. They probably go to the market on the Eke market day to make money and receive blessings from the ”almighty Eke market day” LOL!
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