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Ethiopia’s Oromos celebrate Irreechaa thanksgiving festival

Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, on Sunday celebrated Irreecha, the annual thanksgiving festival, at Hora Harsede, a lake in the south central town of Bushoftu.

Millions from across Oromia, a regional state in Ethiopia and the homeland of the Oromo people, came together to mark the onset of Birra, the spring season.

While the festival is being held in Bishoftu for ages, celebrations returned to the capital Addis Ababa in 2019 for the first time in 150 years.

People in groups flock to the lake chanting songs, brandishing clubs painted in the Oromo tricolor of black, red and white.

Clad in traditional attires, the celebrants dipped bunches of green grass into the lake to perform libation (sprinkling of the water on their heads and bodies) as elders called Gada chant blessings in melodious intervals to the Oromo God known as Waqqa Guracha (Guracha meaning black to describe God’s mysteriousness).

“Irreecha is one tiny part of the Oromo Geda system, a system that is highly cohesive,” Girma Bulcha, the executive director of Environment, Biodiversity and Climate Forum, told Anadolu Agency.

“Irreecha is a thanksgiving festival that brings together all the main clans and sub clans of the Oromo: Mecha and Tulema, Sebo Gona, Siko Mendo, Ittu Hunbena and Raya Azebo.”

“Peace, Love and Unity,” read the chest of one of T-shirts on display for sale and worn by many a celebrant.

Geriba Deldelo, an elder from Shashemene, a town in the Oromia region, told Anadolu Agency: “Irreecha is a celebration of fertility and peace. We pray for peace not only for Ethiopia but entire Africa.”

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