Without a shadow of a doubt, most people fall in and out of love earlier than they get married and start living under the same roof as husbands and wives. Most people living in different parts of the world have their own ways of proposing marriage.
Unfortunately, some of them get divorced in the shortest possible time as a consequence of unforeseen reasons and turn out to be a laughing stock. In fact, there is no one fits it all formula, one can drive to get a perfect partner.
The desired goal of this writer is not talking about wedding ceremonies which take place in various parts of the world but to talk about a ceremony being prepared to elivate the mood of the would-be bride. Such cermony takes place in Southern Wello, Amhara State commonly known as "Achawach, Tebechisa or Nefjelle. What do the three words mean? They all mean directly or indirectly like peas in a pod.
To begin with its definition, the world Achawach in Amharic language means to have a chat with a would-be bride. Here, the word under discussion is used only to have a play with a lass or a lad ready to get spliced. As the custom of the area does not allow, Achawach will not be held for divorcees who would like to remarry come what may. In actual fact, it is by and large carried out for lasses who get married for the first time as the culture takes place no more than once. This being the case, Achawach is meant to a lass and a lad, not to anyone else. It is mostly held at residential houses of lasses.
As tradition dictates the celebration of Achawach comes to pass at lasses' residential houses. According to the custom of the area, a lad who is going to get married needs to have Achawach five days prior to the wedding ceremony. If truth be told, the event could be more or below five days. Surprisingly, all lasses who come to the lass's residential house with the purpose of getting themselves involved in the ceremony should be unmarried ones. Often, they are commonly known as "Konjochu." It signifies those lasses residing in the area and who do not tie a knot.
Likewise, Achawach is carried out by unmarried lasses. As a matter of course, when the wedding day approaches, all lasses living around the area play with the lass who is going to walk down the aisle. During the ceremony, lasses living around the surrounding area of the lass's residential house, who is going to marry soon, flow into her residential house in the early hours. More often than not, they go earlier than seven o'clock in the evening.
Quite the opposite, lads partake in the ceremony a little late. They do not go home early. But lads before adolescence age may be allowed to go to the lass's house a little earlier. To the surprise of many, lads go behind schedule for the love of proving themselves that they are not afraid of anything going in the evening.
The lasses who go there a little earlier get themselves involved in a range of songs revolving around an assortment of issues. They do the whole thing as they wish. They do everything it takes to make the lass feel infinitely happy. Without prior notice, the lass set in motion simply crying her eyes out bitterly empty of any specific reason. After her friends lullaby her to stop crying, they restart singing songs time and again. During the first, second and final days, Achawach could be celebrated flamboyantly.
The first day of Achawach ceremony is not that thrilling. As most lads do not get themselves involved in the ceremony, they do not have any information pertaining to the ceremony. When lads figure out the exact day of the celebration, they flow into the lass's house nonstop. Quite a lot of lads living in various corners of the lass's surrounding area get themselves involved in the ceremony. They give color to the formal procedure.
Normally, in the course of the ceremony traditional instrument which is known as Atamo, is played at the lass's house. This time, when lads hear from a distance the beating of Atamo, they go straight to the lass's house in the direction they hear the beating of Atamo. The lasses gathered from various corners of the area await for lads single-mindedly coming to join them. By the same token, they sing different songs in the following way, "
"Play the Atamo
Making the sound of danbuwa, danbuwa
But not the sound of embuwa
As a cow which gave birth.
This time, a lass or a lad who is attracted by the voice of Atamo says at the top of his voice,
"Ayi hoy, I belong to you."
This time, one of the lasses responds in this way.
"I can smell perfume at a distance
I can smell perfume at a distance
I think the boy whom I sought after (by calling their names) is coming."
The lasses with no trouble identify the lads' voices. When the lads in return hear this song, they feel that the world is in their hands. The whole lot turns upside down.
Most lads who come from the surrounding areas of the lass's home have kissing partners. In the ceremony those who have got kissing partners are praised by their partners through various songs. To be honest, appreciation is forwarded by sole singers. As a matter of fact, all lasses get themselves involved in singing various songs. All the lasses are expected to come up with their own songs pertaining to their kissing partners.
For instance, if a kissing partner of a certain lass does not show up, she does heed other lads around her. She downplays them. Instead, she expresses her disappointment through a range of songs in the following ways,
"Everyone gathered here is bordering on a chapel of a pea
My lad has not come today
Yet when he comes... "
In the ceremony, when one of the kissing partners of the lass is not around during her turn to sing a song, she sings in this way,
"If an ox does not find its partner, it lows where did my kissing partner go today?"
When lasses stumble upon lads, they pay tribute to one another by mentioning the names of their kissing partners over and over again. But they do not make use of real names of their kissing partners no matter what the cost may be. They have nicknames given for this purpose. For example, if there is a lad named Mr. X, his real name will not be used for praising purposes. Instead, the lad will be given another name. Fathers' names will not be changed for lads. Hence, everybody easily understands who the lass is singing for without difficulty.
By and large, names given to lads have to do with heroisms the avenger and the like Dem Melash, Anberber, Ashebeir, Ashenafi and what have you. Quite the reverse, names given to lasses are related to beauty. This way, one of the participants can surmise who the song the lass is hinting at without problems.
There are a lot to be talked about Achawach as it encompasses a number of activities under its umbrella. There are as well activities which are carried out during the first, second or last day of the formal procedure. A case in point, the last day of Achawach is commonly known as Teyazea. The word Teyazea means the time that the lass gives her words to her fiance.
The ceremony which takes place in Southern Wello is well researched and strong. It is known by the Woreda Cultural and Tourism Bureau, whereas the ceremony which takes place in Dere Woreda is not recognized by the Woreda Cultural and Tourism Bureau.
According to Hailu Taddess, Southern Wello Cultural and Tourism Bureau, the cultural and values Bureau Development group leader, the celebration is more or less the same with Dera Wereda. The ceremony in Southern Wello is known as Tebechisa. It is also known as Nefijele which means getting oneself prepared for a certain thing.
"The duration of the celebration is very different in both areas. Much attention is not given to the celebration. It is being forgotten every so often. The reason behind this problem is, the awareness raising campaign which was conducted in the area concerning harmful traditional practices. Also they have learnt that HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases could be transmitted by kissing and making love. Hence, they harbor fear that sexual intercourse could take place," he added.
He went on to say, to be honest, in Achawach, nobody is made to sleep or make love with anyone even by accident. The system entirely does not entertain this kind of thing. In Achawach, making love is completely unimaginable as well as unthinkable with anyone. Furthermore, lasses are not allowed to kiss anyone except their respective kissing partners. At this point in time, the celebration is not that much seen in the area. But the vanishing of the system from the area does not make lasses and lads to be on the track. They are getting out of track from time to time.
In the past, there was no premarital sex. Still, a virgin lass is respected highly. As to me, Achawachi is not a harmful tradition. The lesson given concerning the harmful traditional practices have not made lasses to be completely on the track. But making love before marriage is turning normal at this point in time," he concluded.