The Aro believed in a Supreme Being, the God of the universe whom they called Obasi or Chukwuabiama. when the missionaries first entered Arochukwu they noticed the absence of shrines and effigies to other deities,
these was not entirely accurate and was not a keen observation because in the course of their expansion the Aro had imbibed and assimilated what the missionaries called Juju which corresponds to the Igbo arusi.
The chief of which was Nkamalo or Kamalu Akanu (an agricultural or rain/storm deity) There were in each family courtyard an "Ogbiti" or Ulonta housing what is called "Inyim Avia" the Aro patron spirit of commerce and wealth,
There was also Otisi which symbolize Authority and dominion(a type of offor) and Nkwa (which was installed in the Obu) a feminine arm of Otisi it symbolized fecundity and the endurance of the lineage(ezi) Alaezi which is the goddess of the household and doorways.
During the course of their sojourn around the hinterland and migrations from the diaspora, Iyieke and Ugwudike deities were also imported into Arochukwu.
However Obasi or Chukwu maintained central or paramount position in Aro spirituality and cosmology.
The Aro established Ibini Ukpabi satellites shrines all over Southern igbo as an arbitrator of cases, what this led to was a period of Aro hegemony over the religious and commercial activities of Southern igbo in a way worse than the dominance Nri had over Northern parts of Igbo land
Aro also are in the record of installing Kamalu shrines alongside native deities in places that they settled ,in those days children believed to have been concieved through the mediation of the oracle at Arochukwu were often called Nwachukwu, this is why Nwachukwu surnames are common all over southern Igbo, the other name by which the shrine was also known by “ibini ukpabi”, has also led to the name ukpabi being common in the area.
© Kaycee Alozie