In 2002, as part of a larger study, the present researcher undertook an ethnographic exploration of the Igbo naming ceremony. The aim was to identify the vector quantities implicated in the practice of this ceremony as well as the symbolic and mimetic acts and fixed expressions that constitute the fabric of the ritual process of the ceremony. The second aspect of the study was to gain a hermeneutic perspective on the ceremony, with a view to understanding the people’s goals and intentions in conducting the ceremony as well as their religious interpretations of its meaning and significance in the life of the child. Also explored were the principal myths underpinning its practice and the extent to which the study of that ceremony could be used as a ladder into achieving a holistic understanding of the basic tenets of Igbo religion. This article presents the key findings of the study. The result showed that it is by means of this ceremony that a newly born Igbo child gets to become defined as an individuated human being through the ritual act of being assigned a name by which to identify him or her in the course of his or her earthly existence. The result of the study also showed that the cultural practice of Igbo naming ceremony encompasses a six-stage process: announcement, preparation, presentation/naming, feasting/communion, and departure stages. The importance of the ceremony for gaining a full understanding of the basic tenets of Igbo Religion also emerged from the results of the study. Hence, the findings of the present study confirm Horton’s assumption that the benefit tenets of African Indigenous Religion could be discovered through a comprehensive study of the important rituals and ceremonies of the various African peoples.
Key words: Igbo, Nigeria, Igbo indigenous religion, naming, ceremonies, rituals.
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