The Iria festival is an annual festival celebrated by the people of Okrika in Rivers State, Nigeria.

The Iria festival is an annual festival celebrated by the people of Okrika in Rivers State, Nigeria.

The festival which is an annual ceremony of womanhood dates back to the 16th century, and it is still celebrated annually till this day.

At the festival, breasts-baring maidens are presented at the market square after being kept at fattening room where they are taken care of for the festival.

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The virgins are kept in the fattening room for 1-3 months where they will undergo some training before they are initiated into womanhood.

Longrich

The girls come out of the fattening room with their bodies painted in different colours.

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The old women called ‘Gbenerime’ easily spot out those who are pregnant among the maidens and get them disqualified as the indigenes of Okrika believe in the festival and do not want to be defiled by any maiden who loses her virginity or gets pregnant before marriage.

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Maidens that are disqualified are shamed and their families can become an embarrassment to the village.

In the past, it is believed that if the indigenes of the village that do not go through this process, find it difficult to get pregnant.


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