The gong broke through the night, which meant only one thing for the people of Imezuna. The coronation ceremonies of the priestess of the moon which is usually celebrated every seven years. The priestess is selected through a cleansing ritual for virgin unmarried girls. A legend holds it that at one time in the history of the people of Imezuna, the King had gone to seek help for a disease that ravaged the village. The chief priest had instructed that the solution was far away in the village seven rivers away from Imezuna. During his journey to the village after seven rivers, a priestess had reigned and secured his throne. On his return, the royal head celebrated in full regalia and the appearance of the full moon. Since then the people of Imezuna had established the office of a priestess who is to reign for seven years as the generalissimo of Imezuna before she would be married off to a worthy man from a distant tribe. This particular night, as the town crier beat the gong aloud saying:
people of Imezuna hear from your sleep, hear in your dream. The ordination of the new moon priestess is going to be held at the appearance of the full moon at mgbidi the village square.
His voice blasted through the walls of their raffia and bamboo huts. Mothers and daughters rose in felicitation from sleep and started to make plans on the bow to win the race throne of the priestess-hood. Everyone who heard the voice of the town crier was super elated that sleep went away from their eyes. It is customary that anyone whose daughter was chosen for that highly placed office would be entitled to no taxation during the period of the reign of the priestess. And whatever is due to the king would also be served to the home of the priestess.
In a particular hamlet, the kinsmen of Mazi Okoro whose brother and wife died in a fiery inferno some years back, Chidumebi who is the only surviving child from that incident had been favored by people from far and near because of her gift of seeing into the future. Some have poured out hatred because whatever she says is most likely going to come through or if instructions she gives would be avoided. Other people have called her an Ogbanje, that she possesses a water spirit. One thing that made Chidumebi is that she was given guards from the king palace who keeps an eye on her.
Since the night of the announcement of the festival for the selection of the priestess of the moon, some maidens have wooed their mothers to seek the help of the seer, Chidumebi to foretell what their fate would be in the contest.
Mazi Obilor, the chief hunter of the village had asked his wife to consult with Chidumebi about their daughter on the matter at hand. She was to do this without Amara's consent. Secretly, Amara's mother went to see what her daughter's fate in the contest would be. On arrival at the tightly secured but, before she could say a word, Chidumebi muttered:
woman, don't you think your daughter should know about your visit?
Ndidi Obilor (Obilor's wife) was so shocked that a sharp cold ran through her skin. Then Chidumebi continued:
If you may know, your daughter isn't a virgin anymore. She would not be in the roll to contest for the sacred throne of the Imezuna priestess.
This revelation further broke Ndidi's ego about her daughter. She left Chidumebi's but with her head bowed in shame.
On the fourth day after the gong had gone into the air, more girls who had eyed the throne had come to consult with Chidumebi at no cost. She had never used her gift for commercial purposes. None of those who had consulted with her was eligible to become the priestess of the moon god. Of course, not all the girls in the village consulted Chidumebi.
The joy of the celebrations can be seen on the faces of everyone. Some had more stories tell than the supposed happiness, anxiety, expectation, and disappointment arising from the foretelling they had from Chidumebi.
On the farthest end of the village lived a very poor blacksmith that other villagers hardly remembers when stuff like this comes up. The town crier reached their clan that night but not with much vigor as he did to others. Mazi Chuka had only one daughter and she is just thirteen years old. Ada, the daughter of Mazi Chuka doesn't have any friends in the vilage because she had been stigmatized as the daughter of the poorest man in the whole of Imezuna. Mazi Chuka makes fine metal works but always had very few patronages. So, their source of livelihood was to work in the farmlands of their neighbours to get little wages to be able to out food on their table. Ada was never distracted by the stigma on her. She grew up to be a modest girl from a poor family.
On the fateful day of the coronation, many maidens who claimed to be virgins queued up in the village square with friends and family relatives watching with amazement who will be crowned the next priestess. Guests and spectators came from other border villages to watch the exercise. The ladies were adorned in beautiful apparel and traditional make-up based on their parental financial capabilities. Ada came to the scene in her best old cloth. Nothing new was on her. As simple as she appeared, she still looked stunning.
The ceremony began when the full moon appeared in the sky. Without a full moon, the rituals would be postponed to another time as would be suggested through the divination of the oracle. Different cultural displays in dance, combat and chants was presented. The Chief priest danced out from the dark in glowing white robe with his staff in his hands. His staff is a symbol of power and authority. Whomever among the maidens touched with the staff and it sparks like lightning will be crowned the priestess.
He danced again. And touched the maidens with his staff one after the other. Any maiden whose touch did not produce lightning was led away from the circle. When it came to the turn of Ada, the moon brightened up and sent sparkles on the staff as it was laid on her shoulder. The whole village square went ago, jubilation and ranting took over the space. That night Ada was crowned amidst other candidates from wealthy home. It appears the gods knows whom the cap fits.
At last, things are going to change forthwith at the Chukas'. It is indeed the blessing of the gods that Ada was chosen as the priestess. Their family lineage has been called out from the claws of poverty and social stigma. Thanks to the appearance of the full moon.
This work is submitted to @theinkwell prompt: full moon