Dipo festival is a traditional festival and practice in Ghana that has gained popularity but has also been criticized by some people. It is, however, one of the most attended events in the country and attracts many tourists. The festival is celebrated by the people of Odumase Krobo, a town in the Eastern region of Ghana, every year in the month of April.
The Dipo Rites is a traditional way of ushering virgin girls into puberty or womanhood, and it signifies that a participating girl is of age to be married. Parents who hear the announcement of the rites send their qualified girls to the chief priest. However, these girls would have to go through rigorous rituals and tests to prove their chastity before they can qualify to partake in the festival.
On the first day of the rites, the girls have their heads shaved and dressed with cloth around their waist to just their knee level. This is done by a special ritual mother and it signifies their transition from childhood to adulthood. They are paraded to the entire community as the initiates (dipo-yo).
Early the next morning, the chief priest gives the initiates a ritual bath. He pours libation to ask for blessings for the girls. He then washes their feet with the blood of a goat which their parents presented. This is to drive away any spirit of barrenness. The crucial part of the rite is when the girls sit on the sacred stone. This is to prove their virginity. However, any girl found to be pregnant or not a virgin is detested by the community and does not entice a man from the tribe.
The girls are then housed for a week, where they are given training on cooking, housekeeping, and childbirth and nurture. The ritual mothers give them special lessons on seduction and how their husbands will expect to be treated. They learn the Klama dance which will be performed on the final day of the rites.
After the one-week schooling, they are released, and the entire community gathers to celebrate their transition into womanhood. The girls are beautifully dressed in rich kente cloth accessorized with beads around their waist, neck, and arms. With singing and drumming, they perform the Klama dance. At this point, any man interested in any one of them can start investigating her family. It is assumed that any lady who partakes in the rites not only brings honor to herself but to her family at large. It is done to initiate young women into knowing their responsibilities before stepping into marriage.
Dipo Rites is a cherished tradition in the Krobo community, and it is seen as an important step in the development of young women. It is a rite of passage that has been passed down from generation to generation, and it is deeply rooted in the culture and beliefs of the people.