Festivals in Ethiopia are typically colorful and exciting. The country has cultural, religious, and other festivals that can attract foreign tourists and local participants to come and gather to watch the procession and take part. The most known name of which held every year in Amhara and Tigray States is Shadey, Ashendye, Solel, Mariya, which is the name for a tall grass that young women usually tie around their gowns as a type of decoration. The celebration days also herald the freedom of young women. It is a popular festival which reverberates the voice of young women loudly.

Young girls or participants usually attend the occasion by dressing jeweler, embroidery, and hairstyles. It is a famous girls’ or young women’s festival among some of the most popular festivals celebrated in Ethiopia. It has been celebrating annually for centuries in the northern part of Ethiopia specifically in Tigray and Amhara States

Nowadays, it is also celebrated in capital Addis Ababa During the time, young women celebrate the festival with songs and dances dressing traditional clothes and doing traditional hairstyles. The festival sounds for a weeklong following the feast of Buhe in the tradition of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. People celebrate Buhe on August 19 every year. The day for Followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church represents the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus on Mount Tabor.

August is a special month for northerner Ethiopian girls and women because it is a month in which the girls of Tigray and Amhara highlighted by games and preparation to celebrate the New Ethiopian Year.

Culturally, Ashendiye is celebrated in households with baking special bread (mulmul) and a small bonfire organized at individual residence or community in the neighborhoods. Children or Kids go house to house chanting “Bhunena Buhebelu.” The household gives either mulumul or bread or coins.

During this festivity, girls and young women attend the festival gathering together by dressing traditional attire. The whole community and government officials take part or attend the festival. People considered the celebration as respect given for females especially girls and women throughout the year. It is also considered as the value of declaring gender equality.

Before the celebration begins thousands of people march to the areas that host the festivity. Now, the festival has been attracting many local and foreign tourists. In both states, the festival is celebrated across certain districts. For instance, Ashenda is celebrated colorfully in Tigray State while Shadey in Wag Humra, Ashendiye, and Solel in Lalibela and Kobo respectively took place colorfully in North East Amhara.Covid-19's Impact On Ethiopia's Unique Girls' Festival

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has been working to inscribe the unique festival as a world heritage. Festivals such as Ashenda enable the world to increase efforts at combatting child marriage and gender-based violence. While the festival allows for young women to showcase their elegance and beauty, it also heralds the freedom of young women and helps develop the confidence of girls and young women. It has been considered as a show of respect given to women throughout the year, and a means of declaring gender equality. The festival attracts both domestic and foreign tourists, with interest in participation growing from year to year. The efforts are ongoing to secure an intangible cultural heritage status under the United Nations Education, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) classification.

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This year the government has announced that the festival will be celebrated at home. Due to the risk COVID-19 poses, government officials and religious leaders have called on the public to stay at home and maintain any ceremonies with social distance and limited participants. It is unprecedented for the lively cultural festival to be confined indoors. The virus poses a looming threat for the celebration of other major holidays approaching, such as Ethiopian New Year, causing locals to have to rethink how to celebrate age-old traditions.

Read the original article on Ethiopian Herald.

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