Ethiopia: Irreechaa - Praise & Rhythm

It started early on Friday morning, and it kept on going uninterrupted for more than 24 hours into Saturday afternoon. A sound of rhythmically coordinated footsteps, faster than walking but not quite jogging, in perfect synchronisation with the beats of acapella songs.

It started early on Friday morning, and it kept on going uninterrupted for more than 24 hours into Saturday afternoon. A sound of rhythmically coordinated footsteps, faster than walking but not quite jogging, in perfect synchronisation with the beats of acapella songs.

It was a train of groups of people singing and moving in harmony that poured into the heart of Addis Abeba, Mesqel Square, from all corners of the country to celebrate Irreechaa: a thanksgiving festival for the Oromo people. They formed a sea of white, red and black - the colours of the flag of the Oromo Regional State - as the large crowd gathered for the festivities and various events organised at different venues throughout the city.

Elders kicked off the festivities by offering prayers of thanksgiving and blessings in the main event that was held in Mesqel Square on Friday, October 4, 2019. There was a cultural show, a brass band and performances by famous singers.

On Saturday the focus was the thanksgiving ceremony held early in the morning in the new park recently completed adjacent to Mesqel Square. Irreechaa is a festival celebrated under the Oromo culture every year at the beginning of the sunny season, which is usually observed in the last week of September or the first week of October. It is an expression of gratitude for the blessings of the previous year and for surviving the tough rainy season. It is also an expression of hope for the coming harvest.

At the conclusion of the celebration that was held in the capital for the first time, the singing crowd of all age groups and diverse localities continued the rhythmic march to Bishoftu, the original home of the event. The celebration has continued today, October 11, 2019, at the sacred grounds of Lake Hora Harsadi.

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