"The Feast of the New Yam was approaching and Umuofia was in a festival mood."
New Yam Festival (Dublin)
New Yam Festival (Dublin)
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeNew Yam Festival (Dublin) - Credit: Informatique

The New Yam Festival, known as Iwa ji, is a traditional harvest festival with deep significance to the agriculturally dependent Igbo people. It is a celebration of the end of the cultivation season and of the abundance of the yam. It is practiced throughout West Africa and is used as a means of tying together different Igbo communites through their common reliance on yam.

Several rituals compose the festival as a whole; the first of these is the eating of the first yam of the new harvest, which is done by the oldest member of the community or by the king of that particular region. It is believed that this role allows them to act as intermediaries between their people and the gods of the land. Other rituals include various sacrifices to the gods and the "spiritual cleansing" of participants in the festival prior to the consumption of the new yams.

The festival also involves a wide variety of convivialities, including folk dances, masquerades, parades, and parties.