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Want a good rainy season? Let the Virgins fill the Odomankoma Ahina

Sun, 3 Oct 2004 Source: GNA

A GNA feature by Hannah Asomaning

Women are not allowed to visit the Tano Sacred Grove when they are in their menstrual period. But the irony is that the people of Tano and Bono are promised a good rainy season when virgins in their menstrual period pour water into the Odomankoma Ahina (The Pot of the Creator) and it overflows.

Odomankoma Ahina is situated at the source of River Tano and it is believed that is where the Spirit of Tano stays. Indeed, if there are no rains, virgins in their menstrual period are gathered and sent to fetch water from the Tano River into the Odomankoma Ahina. If the Pot overflows, the people of Tano and Bono are sure of a fruitful season.

The belief aside, the Tano Sacred Grove is a very beautiful sight. It is a good place for hiking, meditation and fun. It is nestled within a semi-deciduous forest, enclosed by a cluster of striking sandstone rock formations. A variety of plants, birds and butterflies are found in the Grove. The Tano River runs through big sandstones that can give shade to about 15 people at a time. There are cave bats.

According to Bono Techiman history, Tanoboase and the Sacred Grove are traditional homes of the Bono people. The Bono people emerged from a cave called Amowi hundreds of years ago. The site is, therefore, the earliest Bono settlement.

The Tano shrine residing in a brass pot is currently kept at the Tanoboase town but the Priest carries it to the Grove annually for rituals. The Grove is also the site of the annual Apoo Festival. It is believed that Taakora, the highest of the Akan Deities, dwells at the source of the Tano River in the Grove.

When the first inhabitants of Tanoboase discovered the Deity, the Grove became a place of worship and has remained a sacred place ever since. Taakora gave the first family who went to settle there some instructions to enable them to live there in peace. Among them was the rule that said there should be no farming at all in the area.

At the moment, the land is a virgin land and has not seen any farming activity at all, Mr Osei Tano, a tour guide at the place, told the Ghana News Agency. He said apart from creating walkways to enable visitors have an easy and enjoyable tour, "this place is always preserved and protected from farming".

For a visitor to be able to get to the Tano River that lies in the Grove a traditional rite has to be performed. One should not visit the Grove with a evil mind, a woman in her menstrual period should not go there and if one pretends to be a virgin and goes to fetch water from the Tano River into the Pot, she goes blind, Mr Osei Tano cautioned the GNA reporter before taking her there. The town Techiman was named after Techi, one of the four people, who evolved from a hole, according to a story told in the area.

The Tanoboase Community initiated the Tano Sacred Grove Project as an ecotourism site in 1996. It is one of the tourist attractions in Ghana that every Ghanaian would like to see, as it would excite everybody.

Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Modernization of the Capital City, told the Ghana News Agency that the celebration of World Tourism Day was aimed at promoting such places in the country not known to its citizens and to promote domestic tourism. "Ghanaians should take time off and visit sites like the Tano Sacred Grove, as it improves the economic situations of the communities that have them," he said.

The Minster said the Ministry was poised to work closely with all social partners to ensure that tourism was developed in a manner to create employment, improve incomes as well as boost micro and small-scale enterprises.

Columnist: GNA