Ati Atihan is a local festival of Panay Island, Philippines. It is a religious feast which involves tribal dances, parade and music. it is popularly known as the ‘the mother of all festivals’ in Philippines.
Ati Atihan Festival is an annual feast held every January marking the birth of Infant Jesus ‘Santo Nino’ in the town of Kalibo, Aklan in the island of Panay, Philippines. It concludes on the third Sunday and is commemorated with much grandeur.
Although, it is a religious feast, both Christians and Non-Christians tend to observe it. It is marked by tribal dance, tribal make-up and costumes, music and parade. The locals believe that the miraculous Child Jesus will protect them from harm and illness.
The word Ati-Atihan means “To be like Atis.”
The legend suggests,
A group of 10 Malay chieftains called Datus, fleeing from the island of Borneo settled in the Philippines, and were granted settlement by the Ati people, the tribes of Panay Island. Datu Puti, Makatunaw’s chief minister made a trade with the natives and bought the plains for a golden salakot, brass basins and bales of cloth. They gave a very long necklace to the wife of the Ati chieftain. Feasting and festivities followed soon after.
Some time later, the Ati people were struggling with famine as the result of a bad harvest. They were forced todescend from their mountain village into the settlement below, to seek the generosity of the people who now lived there. The Datus obliged and gave them food. In return, the Ati danced and sang for them, grateful for the gifts they had been given.