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Among Ghana's many traditional celebrations, some of the most interesting are those that accompany the bestowing of a name upon an infant shortly after its birth, the initiation rites that symbolize the passage from adolescence to adulthood, marriage and funeral ceremonies.

Each ethnic group and every town or village also has its own annual festival, serving to strengthen inter-personal bonds. These may include inter-tribal reconciliations, or the renewal of pledges of fidelity to chiefs and ancestors who are considered as forming an invisible link to the world of their present-day subjects and descendants. Such festivals may vary considerably in their form, the period in which they occur and their underlying significance, but by their sheer diversity they testify to the richness of Ghana's cultural heritage while constituting an ongoing source of fascination for visitors.

In a general manner, the celebrations also commemorate historical events endowed with a special significance to the inhabitants of a given locality, or the members of an ethnic group or clan. In many cases, festivals also mark the beginning or end of harvest seasons, the purification of ancestors' stools or the pacification of a divinity. But whatever their form or purpose, all are based on the belief in an invisible universe peopled by supernatural beings whose thoughts and actions influence the events and inhabitants of the material world.

In many instances, festivals are also occasions for renewing the bonds between one's ancestors and tribal divinities.

In general, most ritual offerings are divided into two phases: the rites, which are observed in private, including sacrifices to divinities and ancestors, ritual libations and incantational magic. Once this is accomplished, the public celebration commences, during which the village chief dons his finest regalia and displays all the symbols of his power and prestige. Enthroned upon on a palanquin and protected by a splendid canopy, the local chieftain is paraded through the village by retainers and members of his court dressed in their best ceremonial finery. These rituals or Durbars draw huge crowds which gather to renew their pledge or fidelity and allegiance to their leader. As the Durbar festivities spread to every street of the village, the inhabitants joyfully sing and dance, accompanied by ritual drums often used solely on these occasions.

There is nothing religious about these festivities, and the same type of celebration may take place in honour of the arrival of an illustrious guest or important visitor.

Filming and photography are allowed during these festivities.

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JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER
OTHER FESTIVALS AND OTHER CALENDAR EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR

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