ALA in traditional Igbo Philosophy
Ala or Mother Earth.is the principal Agbara(Nature Divinity) of the Igbos,
since we all live on the Earth and receive our sustainance from Earth the Igbo sees it as imperative to respect and honour mother earth and offer her all the appeasement possible,
Ala worship is central to igbo spirituality, because the Earth is the mother of all, the earth is sacred..since Ala is pure and sacred the igbo practiced what is called Nso Ala,
Autochthonous Igbo groups all have an Nfunala tradition of origin believing that they sprouted from the Earth as against the Umueri that believed they descend from Eri a sky being who came down to earth.
One of the most prominent autochthons groups in the central igbo region are a clan of earth moulders known as Agbaja. It appears they are one of the most ancient Igbo groups, the work of earth moulders can be seen all over Igbo land from Nsude Pyramidal structure, to Igbudu altars, to Okpu ala to Mbari houses, they're all done to honour the earth goddess.
Another group of people who answer Umuezeali highlights the importance of earth worship to the igbo of old, the Umuezeali group are the autochthons of Ogba and make up much of what is Egbema today..
They were fierce devotees of mother earth and haboured a major Ihu ali shrine, Egbema had a lot of taboos and ordinances that governed it's worship of Ala which is why the town used to be known as Egbema Alinso,
Ala is the beginning and the end of Igbo traditional Religion which is why it is known as Odinaana (the ordinances of Earth) amongst the Northern igbo and Amaala/Amaali (laws/enactments of the land) amongst the Southern Igbo,
Amaala is a traditional torah that covers all the laws of Earth, from daily rituals to ordinances to rules and regulations, rites and purifications and social norms, any violation of it is iruala,
The custodians of Amaala are the Elders known as Nde Amaala, it's arbitrators and social police are the Amadi (which comprises of the free born youth) the will of the Amadi is enshrined in the Amadioha oracle, which is the Arusi of Justice and the chief law enforcement.
A minor priest of Ala is Osuala or Duruala, in every town the high priest of Ala is the Ezeala, the Ezeala may also be the Ezeobodo if Ala is the principal town deity, if that's not the case then the Ezeala is always the highest of all the chief priests right next to the EzeObodo.
Ala's altars do not have effigies, it is usually designated by a sacred tree with an altar (obo or igu) at it's foot where offerings and libations are made, Ala shrines were known as Ihu Ala(ihi Ala in Echie)
every town in southern igbo used to have a communal altar dedicated to Ala under the title of the town e.g in Egbu it was Ala Egbu deity, Ala Ngwa(Okpu ala Ngwa), Ali Ikwerre in Isiokpo etc