Oya or O’yansa. Female Orisá, she is not the patron of the cemetery as many seems to think, thought it’s one of the Odun’s. She is one of the five fundamental elements, she is the Niger River, a countrywoman, a very skilled hunter, she is also Olódùmarè and Òrúnmila’s “Feisita” (secretary) and she hunts with Òde and Òsóòsì. She is sweet and terrible at the same time. She was married to Ògún and he left her, hade a son with Arona, she lived with Òsóòsì and hade a daughter, she lived with Olókun and hade a son called Èsú Elaketu, she also lived with Sàngó and it was with him she hade the Ibeys. Oya has an older sister called Ayao (Ajao). And she is the daughter of Boromu and Borosia (the air currents and the marine currents), she also has another sister that’s called Ayalaketu (eyed), who lives in the cemetery. Oya is a trader she owns the square, she learned the trade complex in the towns and cities of Obba Nani.

Oya is the daughter of Oye and Afábile, Afábile is the path of Obàtálà, Baba Afebile raised her, and he is an old Obátálà who lives in the atmosphere maintaining the fresh air for the human kind, it’s a mandate from Olódùmarè.

Oya is the real owner of Ogue, which are given to Sàngo in sign of an alliance, the Ogue is assembled with the horns of Oya’s and Èsú’s goat.

The deity Oya is also called O’yansa and her symbolic dresses include a crown on the fringes of pearls that hides the face. She also carries a reserved ornament for the Yorùbá and Nago kings which is a sword and a ponytail as a sign of dignity, she limits storms and winds triggered, she dances as a warrior with extended arm’s and hands facing forward, as if she is rejecting the Égún’s. She is called Avesán among the Fons.

She is called Adañe Kuruñe in Dahomey and by the Arará, which means courageous, cadaverous.

Her main attributes are a soup bowl painted in nine colours (except black), a crown of nine points with nine pieces falling: a hoe, a pick, a bow and arrow, a ray, a scythe, a stick, a rake and an axe. It has nine copper bracelets, stones and cowries.

Her collars are bright red and brown Matipó beads that are with black and white stripes. For others can there be purple beadings, with yellow stripes. There can also be black and white (nine black and nine white) until there are nine of each colour.

She hates the sheep and it is Taboo for his followers. Oya stopped eating abo so she could save the Ibeji( her children), therefore Oyas children are not allowed to eat Abo. Oya joined inextricably with Osun and there is a phrase that says “There is no Oya without Osun and there is no Osun without Oya” in other words “Oya tonti (follows) Osun, Osun tonti Oya”

She also prohibits pumpkin, oil grits of corn, the manipulation of her attributes when women, are menstruating. She enjoys food like white rise with eggplant bread filled black eyed peas, her favourite animals are goats, pigeons, chickens, guineas and quail, her favourite dish is the cake or bean razupo.

In African soil Oya is the deity of the Niger River and a legend says that she was one of Sàngós wife’s and his favourite. When Sàngó decided to end with his human form by entering the earth in the town of Ira, feeling disappointed Oya decided to end her life. A riddle says that the Yorùbás associates her with the Níger.

A myth says that Oya was the only wife among the others who decided to accompany Sàngó in his journey to Tapa (Nùpe) to his maternal house.

It was a long journey, but Oya’s corage failed in a place called Irá, her hometown which she wasn’t supposed to see again if she maintained her love for her husband and persisted in following him to the final. The prospect of a live among strangers in a strange land, among people who spoke another language and also living her parents and their house forever took her and made her hesitate and finally desist from their efforts. It was because of this that Oya was ashamed and decided to never return to Oyó and stayed in Irá. When the news of her beloved husband’s suicide reached her, the reaction was so strong that she also decided to take her own life. She was deified and her name was given to the Niger River, which was called Odo Oya.

Oya is attributed to tornadoes and violent storms that destroy trees and crumbling towers and houses, represents her displeasure. Two swords and horns of a buffalo is the image that represents Oya among the Yoruba. Her followers are distinguished by particular red beads always hanging around her neck.

There is a myth about the deity, according to which, Oya was an antelope that became a woman.

Every five days on her way to the towns market, she removed her fur in the forest and she hide it in the bushes. One day Sàngó saw her at the market and was taken by her beauty. He followed her in to the forest, he then saw her when she took the fur and transformed to an antelope. The following day at the market, Sàngó decided to hide in the bushes while Oya transformed from an antelope to a women, when Oya went to the market after hiding the fur, he went home and took the fur with him and hide it under the beams. When he returned to the forest he found Oya desperately looking for her fur, Sàngó took her home with him where his other two

Wife’s, Òsún and Obba lived with him. Òsún and Obba had not been able to give him any children, but soon Oya would be conceived and give him twins. Full of envy the other two started to make questions to Sàngó regarding Oya, about who she was, where she came from, who was her family and at last Sàngó gave in and told on of the wife’s how he met Oya, making the wife promise to keep his secret. The wife even thought she promised her husband to keep his secret, she and the other wife started to sing “She eats, she drinks and her fur is hanging by the beams”.

Oya got exited hearing this song and one day when she was left alone, she started to search for her fur among the beams and she found it. When Sàngó returned home he started to chase her so that he could convince her to go back home with him, but instead she only attacked him with her horns. Finally he was able to calm her down by putting a bowl with bean razupo, Oya was so happy to have her favourite food in front of her, that she made peace with him, giving him her horns and promising him that every time he would need her, he just have to hit the horns against each other and she would come to help him.

Every time there is a storm that strong that here are uprooted trees, large broken branches and torn roofs off buildings, the Yoruba believes that Oya, Sango's wife, is in action. It is believed that she precedes or accompanies her husband when there is a thunderstorm

When the word Ayaba (Queen) is spoken referring with respect to Oya, is because she is the spouse of Sàngó. Women are very powerful in the Yoruba society and one of the best examples is Oya, since she was not only a queen and Sàngós wife she also governed Irá. This song tells about it.

Oya dolú,
Ègán ò royin.
Oya dolú,
Ègàn ò royin.
Ègàn ò mò le wí pé kóyin má se dùn o.
Oya dolú,
Ègàn ò royin.

Oya has gotten powerful
The sneer those not affect the honey
Oya has gotten powerful
The sneer those not affect the honey
The sneer can’t prevent the honey from being sweet
Oya has gotten powerful
The sneer those not affect the honey

Oya became powerful in her own right. She was a woman more powerful than her husband. She was married, had children, a mother, and was the most powerful of Òrìsà. Sàngó had to find a medicine and an antidote to Oya. That's what the song that follows tells us.

Sàngó ti róògùn Oya se,
Sàngó ti róògùn Oya se,
Olúbáñbí, Àfonjá, Ewélére o.
Sàngó ti róògùn Oya se.

Sàngó found the antidote to Oya
Sàngó found the antidote to Oya
Olúbáñbí, whose other names are Àfonjá y Ewélére or.
Sàngó had found the antidote to Oya.


Oríkì Oya
(Praising the spirit of the wind)

Oya yeba Iya mesa Oya , Òrun afefe Iku lele bioke,
Oya, Mother of Oyo, sky’s wind down to the ancestors

Ayaba gbogbo le’ya obinrin,
Queen of all women

Ogo mi ano gbogbo gún, Òrìsà mi abaya Oya ewa O’yansa.
Always protect me with you powerful medicine, the queen is guardian spirit. Spirit of the wind, Mother of the nine ancestors.


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