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Ashendiye/Ashenda – girls’ festival – celebrated in North Ethiopia

Ashendiye/Ashenda celebrated in Tigray, Amhara and Addis Ababa. President Sahlework celebrated it in Tigray.

August 22, 2019

Ashenda _ Tigray region
Ashenda celebration in Mekelle. Photo credit : Tigray region communication Affairs bureau

August 22, 2019

Ashendiye or Ashenda (it is also called Solel), a very popular girls festival, is celebrated in Amhara and Tigray regions in northern Ethiopia. It is also celebrated in the capital Addis Ababa.

Doing their hair in traditional style and dressed in traditional clothes, girls celebrate the festival with songs and dances.

The festival, which sounds like a weeklong, is celebrated following the feast of Buhe (bread festival) in the tradition of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.  Buhe is celebrated on August 19. For the followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the day represents the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus (Holly Savior) on Mount Tabor.

Culturally, it is celebrated in households with the baking of special bread (mulmul) and a small bonfire is organized in the premises of individual residence or a community one in the neighborhoods. Kids go house to house chanting “Buhena Buhebelu.” They are given either mulmul or coins if mulmul is not baked in the household.

Although the festival is very popular in northern Ethiopia, it is celebrated in other parts of the country. The celebration in Addis Ababa, on Thursday, was colorful. 

Ashendiye Addis Ababa
Ashenda Addis Ababa. Photo credit : EBC

Dressed in traditional Ethiopian attire, Dagmawit Moges, Federal government minister for Transport, attended the celebration in the capital Addis Ababa.

Tigray regional state managed to put together a massive festival at the Mekelle Stadium and the celebration, from a video circulating on social media, was stellar.  The regional state organized the festival with the motto “Ashenda an example for peace, unity, and development,” as reported by Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC).

President Sahlework Zewde traveled to Mekelle on Thursday to take part in the festival, and she was received by Debretsion Gebremichael, president of the region, upon arrival at Alula Aba Nega Airport.

In her speech during the celebration at Mekelle Stadium, she said: “the respect given to girls on the occasion of Ashenda need to be for all women and throughout 365 days of the year.”

In what seems to be a message to underscore that the holiday is widely celebrated in different parts of the country, she added that “culture is not restricted by a political boundary.”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed did not make to Mekelle but he has conveyed his best wishes for the holiday.

Tens of thousands of people have traveled to the region for the celebration from different parts of the country. It has also attracted tourists.

Ashenda Sekota _ AMMA
Ashenda Sekote. Photo credit : AMMA

In Amhara regional state, the festival is mainly celebrated across many zones in the region. Temesgen Tiruneh, president of Amhara regional state, and other senior regional authorities have traveled to Sekota zone of the region where Ashendiye was colorfully celebrated.

According to Amhara Mass Media Agency (AMMA), the biggest Ashendiye celebration is yet to come in Bahir Dar this coming weekend. UNESCO team is expected to attend the ceremony to make their evaluation as Ethiopia is trying to register the festival as a cultural heritage.

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  1. You have to start from Ashenda, the original tigrinya name of the festival. It only spread to nearby Amhara destricts with slightly different name as they couldn’t correctly pronounce its original tigrinya name. Don’t be mislead by the state owned ethiopian medias as they are pro amhara region. In amhara region, it is celebrated in destricts nearest to tigrai region. these destricts were even part of tigray region prior to the current ruling government.


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