The most important festival or ancestral custom of Asante historically is the "Adae".Adae means a "resting place" or "a sleeping place". It is also the name of the special day, on which traditional rulers or chiefs go into the stool house (Nkonuafieso) where the spirit of the ancestors (forefathers) rest. The or Big Adae festival is celebrated by the chiefs and people of Asante in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
"Akwasidae" is a Sunday on which the traditional rulers orchiefs of the Akan people throughout Ghana and especially Asantes perform rites for the invocation of the ancestral spirits (the spirit of their deceased predecessors) and others of the Akan religion and to meet the people in a public assembly to salute them as well as receive homage.It is of interest to note that, the ordinary Akwasidae (Adae Ketewa) is observed or celebrated by every traditional ruler (chief) in his community i.e. in their towns and villages.
It is observed nine (9) times in a year, on a forty-day interval period.
The Akwasidae is again observed separately by individual chiefs at the local level for only a day (The Adae Sunday).
The celebration of or the Big Adae is different from that of the ordinary Adae which is localised.
The Festival is a means which the Asante Kings go through some ceremonies to invoke the spirits of their past ancestral kings whom they see as gods. This festival is keenly observed in order to bring happiness and prosperity to the Ashanti nation and the country in general. Besides, the is held once in every five (5) years by the Asantehene and celebrated for two weeks.
It is again held on the first Akwasidae of the chosen year or occassionally in the month of October. This involves the Asanteman (Ashanti Nation). It is the period that all occupants of the stools (traditional rulers; big and small) within the domain of the Golden stool will converge at Kumasi to attend the Adae General Assembly at Manhyia and re-affirm their allegiance to the Golden Stool, the spiritual embodiment of Asante Nationhood and also to the Asantehene.The Actual Celebration
The Adae festival celebration may be categorised into two, that is private and public events. The festival has the following as its features:
Sending of royal messengers to Akrokerri, Beposo, Tanoso, Buoyam, Tanoboase and Esreso to collect holy water (Tanosuo) for the purification of the stools, shrines and regalia.
* Visit to the Bantama and Breman Mausoleum by the Asantehene to invoke the ancestral spirits concerning the impending .
*The chiefs and people in the Asante traditional area, will engage in general cleaning exercise thus tidying of the environment, special utensils and houses on the Holy Saturday (Dapaa Kan) preceding the Sunday Adae.
*The Asantehene stays at the palace and will not transact public business but to supervise preparations towards the Akwasidae Kesie."Visit to the stool house and shrines for pouring of libation (Prayers for prosperity of the people and the nation).
*Grand durbar of chiefs and people including foreigners. Preparations for the starts from the first day of the two weeks,within which the various activities and ceremonies were performed day after day up to the Akwasidae which serves as the climax for the occasion.
In the morning of the day (Sunday) the Asantehene would visit the stool house and ancestral shrines near the palace to pour libation (Prayer for prosperity). During the early hours of the day, about twenty (20) sheep would be slaughtered to mark the symbolic significance of the occasion.
Aside, the King (Asantehene) would then sit in state to receive guests, the Omanhene (paramount chiefs) and other Divisional chiefs together with important personalities who had then arrived in the capital would pay their homage. He would then offer them drinks as custom demands and they would later disperse for the afternoon’s durbar.
In the afternoon, the King and the people including foreigners assemble in public to receive homage from all chiefs and others and also acknowledge our ancestors who built the various communities that make up the nation and whose legacy-the cultural norms and practises , we treasure so much as they have given us our identity as a people.
After midnight on Sunday, the most dreadful ceremony of Bantama or "death wake" takes place. Bantama Mausoleum is now known as the "place of drippings" of the Asante Kings, because the last burial mausoleum of the Asante Kings is now known and called the Breman Mausoleum.
The procession of special attendants of the King would be started from the palace cemetery during midnight.
Some members of the procession would be wearing their war dress whilst others will be in their mourning clothes. Upon the arrival of the king and his special attendants at Bantama, pouring of libation and special rituals are performed thus invoking the spirit of the deceased kings and imploring the blessings of the ancestors for the increase in productivity and the welfare of the nation.
The king hence would be asking the ancestors to keep the good relations that had existed between them and the living over the years .On the Monday, the king having visited the Bantama and Breman Royal Mausoleum for the customary rites will say a "good bye" to the Asante chiefs.Finally, it must be noted however that, it is during this period that the Golden stool is brought for public observation.