Yauri Rigata Festival: A Unique Cultural Extravaganza

A celebration of bravery, strength and love

By Tour Nigeria

Women Canoe Race (2020)Tour Nigeria

A unique celebration

Rigata is a Gunganci word meaning Marine War. Yauri Rigata festival is celebrated annually in the month of March. The festival begins with captivating displays of cultural dances, music, wrestling, acrobatics, traditional magic shows, which is followed by thrilling water sporting competitions and ends with a prestigious water display of the cultural conveyance of a bridal entourage during the traditional Yauri wedding ceremony.

Rigata Festival Video (2020)Tour Nigeria

The location: Yauri Emirate
The festival is celebrated in Yawuri also called Yauri is situated in southern Kebbi State, Nigeria, it is one of the four Emirates of the State. Once an ancient kingdom in Hausa land, Yauri is home to two main ethnic groups - Kambari of the mainland and Gungawa of the island of River Niger. Yauri is famous for hosting thrilling water sports events.

Canoe Race (2020)Tour Nigeria

The History
The Rigata festival started about 200 years ago as a display of naval strength of the Gungu people, where the Gungu warriors annually attacked dangerous hippopotamus that were destroying farmlands. Warriors would board various sizes of canoes with different types of weapons to attack the animal on the River Niger. This required expertise in canoe paddling and naval warfare. It also served as training exercise for upcoming Gungu warriors.

A young dancer at the Rigata Festival (2020)Tour Nigeria

Preserving Culture
The Rigata festival is well attended by young people who play their part to ensure tradition is preserved.

Jirgin Amarya (2020) by Kabiru Sama'ilaTour Nigeria

Jirgin Amarya 'The Bride's Boat
After the ban on Hippopotamus hunting in the 19th Century, the Rigata festival also became a prestigious display of wealth, power and influence during wedding ceremonies. The bride and her entourage are escorted in beautifully decorated Jirgin Amarya safely to the River bank, accompanied by traditional music.

Rawan Kokukwan (2020)Tour Nigeria

Beats and Rhythm
The Rigata festival is exciting, with colourful displays of traditional dance moves and traditional music dating back to 500 years. Traditional instruments including drums, flutes and pipes are used to create unique beats and rhythms.

Dance group at the Rigata Festival (2020)Tour Nigeria

Kebbi State Cultural Troop
Witness the cultural dances and displays from various communities of the Emirate. Each community has a unique dance move unique to their people.

Rawan Ubayan dance troupe (2020)Tour Nigeria

Rawan Ubayan Dancers
Beautifully adorned young dancers perform dance moves unique to the Ubayan community at the festival.

Ruwan Nomayen (2020)Tour Nigeria

Ruwan Nomayen
From acrobatics to masquerade performances, traditional wrestling and magic shows, the festival includes it all.

Kungiyan Igbon 'The Igbo Community in Yauri, Kebbi State, Nigeria' (2020)Tour Nigeria

Kungiyan Igbon
Yauri is also home to cultures from other parts of Nigeria. They are not left out at the festival. Just like the Kungiyan Igbon 'Igbo community', they are given a place in the festival where they showcase their culture.

Floating Motorbike (2020)Tour Nigeria

Floating Motorbike
At the Rigata festival, young Gungawas showcase their inventions to thrill spectators.

Floating Bicycle (2020)Tour Nigeria

Floating Bicycle
An optimistic young chap riding his bicycle on the River Niger. Energetic young men and women actively participate in the Yauri Rigata festival, some as contestants of the sporting activities, others as inventors showcasing their invention.

Plastic Bowl Race (2020)Tour Nigeria

Plastic Bowl Race
Young boys are places in floating plastic bowls, and at the blow of the whistle paddle with their hands towards the finish line.

Round Gourd/Calabash Race (2020)Tour Nigeria

Round Gourds Race
Contestants display expertise, balance, dexterity and stealth as they race towards the finish line. Round gourds are commonly used in northern Nigeria as floating devices for short movements and fishing.

Men Canoe Race (2020)Tour Nigeria

Canoeing in Gungu
The canoe is the most common means of transportation on the River Niger. For the people of Gungu (Gungawa), virtually everyone, male, female, young and old can canoe.

Women Canoe Race contestant (2020)Tour Nigeria

Canoe Race
There are two categories of contestants, the female teams and the male teams. The race begins about half a kilometre away from the riverside. Contestants are flagged off as they race towards the bank. Officials are lined up along the bank to identify winning contestants as they arrive. Each team comprises of 10 canoers. The first three teams to arrive the riverside are declared winners

The Bride's Boat (2020) by Kabiru Sama'ilaTour Nigeria

The Bride
After the sporting activities are over, the bride's boat 'Jirgin Amarya' finally arrives the festival ground with her entourage. There is singing and dancing as the atmosphere is immediately filled with love.

Amarya's Drummers (2020) by Kabiru Sama'ilaTour Nigeria

The Wedding Ceremony
The air is filled with traditional music and love songs as the bride is led to the groom. There, she will receive blessings for her marriage and be united with her groom.

The Wedding Ceremony (2020)Tour Nigeria

A Beautiful Ending
The bride is completely covered with the traditional Ankara fabric, only to seen by her groom. The women sing praises and love songs to her. She is blessed by the elders and finally united with her groom. This marks the end of the Yauri Rigata festival.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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