Adae Kese Festival (“big resting place”) is a celebration of the Ashanti. It glorifies the achievements of the Asante kingdom. It is also the occasion when the purification ceremony of Odwira is performed at the burial shrines of ancestral spirits. Generally, this coincides with the harvest season of yam and hence the ritual was also called the “Yam custom” by Europeans.
The Adae Kese Festival follows the same rituals as the Adae Festival, however, a difference in the celebration rites is that the chief carries a sheep for sacrifice to the Stool. The purification ceremony of Odwira is celebrated during Adae Kese at the burial shrines of ancestral spirits. Generally, this coincides with the harvest season of yam, and hence the ritual was also called the Yam custom by Europeans. It is celebrated at this season to thank the gods and the ancestors for a good harvest. The season is equally used to outdoor the new yam.
Every five years, the Adae Kese Festival is hosted by the paramount ruler of the Asante in the capital city of Kumasi, Asanteman, and lasts for two weeks. As a formal state celebration, it involves several villages and towns, within a traditional area known as Odwira, uniting Ashanti from all walks of life (Odwira means to purify). Asantehene, the titular ruler of Kumasi, holds a colourful durbar of chiefs and their queens on this occasion when they all turn up in full regalia. Dancing to the beats of drums is part of the pageantry. The festival is also the occasion when people pledge their confidence in the present king of the Ashante. Some of the deserving people are given awards of recognition on this occasion. The king also holds a very private celebration within his palace chambers along with the designated members of the royal family and other officials.