(also known as Ani
, and Ali
in varying Igbo
dialects) is the female Alusi
(deity) of the earth, morality, death, and fertility in Odinani
. She is the most important Alusi in the Igbo pantheon. In Odinani, Ala rules over the underworld
which holds the deceased ancestors in her womb. Her name literally translates to 'Ground' in the Igbo language, denoting her powers over the earth and her status as the ground itself. Ala is considered the highest Alusi in the Igbo pantheon and was the first Alusi created by Chukwu
, God almighty. Ala's husband is Amadioha
, the sky god.
As the goddess of morality, Ala is involved in judging human actions and is in charge of Igbo law and customs known as 'Omenala
'. Taboos and crimes among Igbo communities that are against the standard of Ala are called nsọ Ala
. All ground is considered 'Holy land' as it is Ala herself. With human fertility, Ala is credited for the productivity of land. Ala's messenger and living agent on earth is the python
), it is and animal especially revered in many Igbo communities. In Odinani art, Ala's image is mostly depicted in clay Mbari temples.
It is said that if a person commits a taboo
in a community, that they have also desecrated or insulted Ala as the abomination (called ajo njo or Aru Ala, Alu Ani) was committed on her earth. Ala is also responsible for many aspects of Igbo society, and guardianship of women and children in general. It is also believed that she can be Chukwu
's... Read More