Irreechaa celebration is underway in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. On Friday, the Addis Ababa Police Department announced the closure of 14 major roads to ensure the smooth flow of festivities, which are set to last for two days.
Irreechaa is the revered day of observance for the Waqe Fena traditional religion, typically marked near water bodies. However, in the urban setting of Addis Ababa, it finds its location near an artificial lake initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after he took office in 2018. It has been about three years since the Irreecha celebration started in Addis Ababa.
The event draws participation from Abbaa Gaddaas, elders who practice the Waqe Fana traditional faith, as well as government officials.
The celebrations in the capital have magnetized hundreds of thousands of people, many hailing from the Oromia region.
This Sunday, the commemoration will continue in Bishoftu (Debre Zeit) along the shores of Lake Hora, where the religious rituals take place.
For ethnic Oromo politicians, activists, and practitioners of the faith, Irreechaa signifies a “thanksgiving” day that marks the conclusion of the rainy season and heralds the arrival of a new one.
Notably, the government has allocated significant state resources to make the Irreechaa celebrations grand and to make it a “unifying event for all Ethiopians.” However, some voices within Ethiopia raise concerns, suggesting that the government may be overemphasizing the Waqe Fana ritual of Irreechaa while imposing restrictions on open-air religious celebrations of the Ethiopian Church. This was evident when Meskel, “The Finding of the True Cross,” was celebrated on September 26, just two weeks after the Ethiopian New Year.
Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporate (EBC) and State-owned media outlets were transmitting the event live as seen in the EBC video featured above.
It’s essential to note that over 70 percent of Addis Ababa’s residents do not belong to the ethnic Oromo group, and the Waqe Fena faith, in its present state, is predominantly practiced in the Oromo region , not in Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia celebrated its ancient New Year at the beginning of September.
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