The Aura Of ASHENDA Over Addis Ababa


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Ashenda is a particular religious and cultural celebration which takes place at the end of Ethiopian year (August – September) in most of the Northern Ethiopia regions. Ashenda takes place right after the two-week-long Lent Offering (Tsome Filseta) – which commemorates the death and incarnation of Virgin Mary (Mother of Jesus) according to the Ethiopian Orthodox Religion.

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Ashenda is more a celebration of Tigray region and other parts of the Northern Ethiopian regions, thus The Tigrigna word Ashenda which literally means “tall green grass” is not the only name that this celebration is known for even though it is widely known by Ashenda.

Solel, Shadei, Mariya, Ashandiye and Ayniwari are the other names of this cultural festivity and the celebration days are also varies from one northern Ethiopian region to the other though it all takes right after the lent offering is over. In Amhara region of Wag Hemra zone and Raya Kobo it is celebrated on August 16, in Lalibela celebrated on August 22, In Adigrat celebrated on August 15-17 and In Aksum town celebrated on August 23-25.

It is also believed that the cultural festivity was originated from another historical legend besides the death and incarnation of Virgin Mary and that is the death of Jehphttah’s son by her father as offer to the God of Israel in the Old Testament.

As Buhe celebration is for Ethiopian boys and young men, Ashenda is mostly for Ethiopian girls and young women like Abebayosh or Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year).

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Here in Addis Ababa many Ethiopian orthodox religion adherents participate in offering the Lent and break the lent by preparing Ethiopian traditional holiday cuisines and attending church services. However, the unique Ashenda celebration is all new for Addis Ababa City and even though it is not as colorful as the Northern part of Ethiopia’s celebration of Ashenda yet, it is so refreshing to see girls and young women wearing traditional costume and singing traditional Ashenda celebration song along with the sound of Kebero (little drum) beat and most of all being one of the eloquent pieces of Ethiopia and representative of their vibrant, beautiful and rich culture in the capital city of Africa – Addis Ababa.

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Though the rainy season is not over yet, Addis Ababa streets officially adds another Africa’s very own interesting scene – colorful, mesmerizing and of course entertaining – thus walking along the street at this time of year should not be featureless anymore because of the cold, mud or rain rather it could be exciting but of course it depends on the way you see it.

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Sitting at one of many Addis Ababa’s cafés also provides another incentive as the kids visit cafés. They also stop by at different kinds of shops along the street singing traditional Ashenda songs which usually praise Virgin Mary and after they receive any kind of gift the lyrics changes to praising the giver and they throw little pieces of colorful papers at the person who give them money or alike and I think this simple but creative act of gratitude can enliven anyone’s spirit.

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I believe Addis Ababa’s miniature Ashenda celebration scene activates the sense of wonder that we are all born with, which unfortunately and usually abandon as we grow up but today I would love to share with the world the ample return for my investment of curiosity.

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Starting with the distinctive hairstyle as it is one of the eloquent pieces of Ashenda celebration, Tigray people and Ethiopia. All girls and women groom themselves by braiding their hair in the most enthralling, creative and of course distinctive way. It is not simply braids rather it is work of art with its own unique name and meaning … you can also witness the famous Albaso hairdo as many girls and women wears it especially at the Ashenda festivity.

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Another beautiful and colorful detail that just simply embellishes this celebration is the traditional clothing. Tilf – the white cotton dress with the colorful embroidery at the front of the dress from the neck line all the way to the bottom and usually ends with the orthodox cross and Shifen – the colorful long dress are the kinds that worn by the girls and women for the celebration.

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The distinctive braid and the impeccably colorful dresses are complemented with different kinds of jewelries like cross necklace, earrings and even jewelers that usually put up on the head. Though it is not an ordinary practice but at this particular celebration the girls wear dark eye shadow and eye liner around their eyes and eyelashes. I must say besides the religious and cultural aspect of the celebration, Ashenda seems like a unique celebration that Ethiopian girls and women creatively and beautifully express themselves.

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Ashenda celebration would not be complete without the tall green grass that the celebration is named after. The grass has two main purposes to make the Ashenda celebration complete. Since the grass is estimated to be at round 80-90 cm minimum height the girls creatively make a skirt out of it and wear it around their waist which makes a fascinating scene when it combined with the traditional dance. And of course this same kind of grass is strewn on the ground in welcoming the holiday spirit.

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Ashenda traditional song which the girls sings in their own language of Tigrigna, the lyrics usually contains words that praise St. Mary and something about the coming Ethiopian New Year ( September 11) with the distinctively enchanting drum beat that just invites everyone to be part of this melodious celebration.

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Ashenda is a colorful celebration with many distinctive and expressive details to make it all complete but to simply state how the celebration materializes in most of the Tigray Northern Ethiopian regions – it is almost a week long celebration that starts from the eve of the actual celebration day which is St. Mary’s day for Ethiopian Orthodox Religion adherent.

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Early in the morning people go to Kidane Miheret (St. Mary) church to attend the morning service and after that the girls gather and go to houses, restaurants and shops singing and receiving gifts. Afterwards the parade forms as they all go to gather at the central point of the village and celebrate it together with the community.

Saying Good Bye to the Old Year with gratitude and grace!

Posted in Uncategorized, Travel, Culture and Tradition, Religious, culture, Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Festival, Events, Holidays, Tigray | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Debre Tabor Celebration


debretaborIt is that time of year again here in Ethiopia to commemorate one of the miraculous moments of Jesus via a particular celebration day (August 19, 2014) which locally known as Buhe or Debre Tabor – an Amharic name of the mountain upon which the transfiguration of Jesus took place – and of course in paving the way for the most anticipated Ethiopian holidays – Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year).

Happy Holidays!

 

Posted in Addis Ababa, culture, Culture and Tradition, Holidays, Religious, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AFRIKA: Through The Eyes of AFRIKANS


As a proud Afrikan it is really an honor to be part of an inspiring venture –showcasing this beautiful and exotic continent AFRIKA to the world – along with my fellow Afrikans via a Kenya based Afrikan online magazine called Afrikan Mbiu.

I also believe it is so interesting and refreshing to see Afrika through the eyes of Afrikans whether it is about their dreams for their continent or about their exotic Afrikan best kept secret cuisines.  Thus for today, I kindly would like to ask my fellow bloggers, followers, loyal readers and the whole world to pour yourself a cup of tea, to sit back and to enjoy AFRIKA.

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I have a Dream!

 

 

Posted in Africa, Ethiopia, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Tis Abay: Walkabout To The Blue Nile Falls


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There is an interesting trail that needs to be covered via a thrillingly challenging 30 – minute walk through the remarkable Tis Abay village in order to reach the main viewpoint over Tis Abay (the Blue Nile Falls).

For me it was not only the anticipation of really seeing this legendary waterfall that captured my attention in motivating me to keep on walking up and down of the lush and rocky route, but it is the panoramic scene of Mother Nature, the captivating villagers, and their mesmerizing everyday life was a startling incentive rather and made every single step worth taking.

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Striding through the Tis Abay village of Gojjam region do provide the beautiful and authentic details of Ethiopia that ranges from traditional clothing as it is dressed by the locals to crossing the Blue Nile River on a large stone bridge called Agam Dildy- built by the Portuguese c1620 during the region of Emperor Susneyos- and which are all the eloquent pieces of Ethiopia worth capturing. Today’s virtual tour is taking the world through Tis Abay Village under the theme of “Travel is about the journey as much as the destination.”

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Legend has it that Gojjam people are the original people who are mentioned in the Bible as the river Ghion (Nile) encompassing the land of Cush stretching to the ancient kingdom of Meroe.

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Traditional clothing in Ethiopia varies by its diverse region and tribe thus the beautiful Gojjam girls and women usually wear long colorful skirts if not the traditional long and loose white cotton dress with embroidery on the cuffs, in the middle and along the neck line all the way to the bottom with symbols of the Orthodox Cross and paired with the White Netela of the same fabric (thin shawl).

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Whether it is the colorful long skirt or the glamorous white dress (Yehager Libs), Gojjam women is known for wrapping their waist with Netela or colorful long scarf and wearing the thin layer shawl (Netela) loosely upon their heads. Witnessing many women carrying things up on their head instead of a basket or hand bag and walk swiftly and effortlessly with it is just Africa’s very own mesmerizing scene.

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Here in Gojjam the men wear shorts and most of the time decorated with hand sewed colorful buttons besides their men traditional white cloth. At the top, most men cover themselves up with long colorful scarfs and carry their legendary Dula (long stick) for all kind of purposes whether to hang bags or small traditional water containers up on it… Dula is Gojjam’s men fascinating signature whether old or young.

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Another beautiful detail that can be spotted while walking through Tis Abay village is Gojjam handicrafts which of course is functional and put to daily use by the locals in their everyday life but would also make amazing souvenir for visitors who want to take the eloquent pieces of Gojjam (Ethiopia) back home.

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The miniatures of few Gojjam’s traditional objects are presented for sale by an enthusiast Gojjam kids along the waterfall. Washent (handmade bamboo traditional flute) as it is many young Gojjam men or shepherd’s best friend, Agelgil is one of the main traditional handmade item that Gojjam is known for and this straw sewed and coated with goat skin item serves as containing food while traveling (as a lunch box), Kil or Shikina (like traditional water jug) -you even see the locals carry them and this little traditional jug serves for carrying water and a like so they become handy for Gojjam people while traveling. Obviously it is no surprise that Gojjam kids present these colorful items for travelers as these particular objects are close to their hearts and without a doubt represent them beautifully.

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Visiting The Blue Nile Falls right after the rainy season ends provides the most exciting experience as the surrounding simply, beautifully and naturally be painted with breathtaking green and of course more water to the falls.

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We are almost there … but I would really love to mention the one small but extraordinary detail which is close to many Ethiopian hearts and the very thing that got me halt briefly while listening to the natural streaming water sound…is seeing the traditional Ethiopian coffee pot (Jebena) against Tis Abay let alone seeping the renowned Ethiopian traditional coffee prepared by one of the villagers around the main viewpoint over the Blue Nile Falls.

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Now it is about time for the anticipated destination, the one that its way is beautifully paved by all the beautiful eloquent pieces of Ethiopia to a worthwhile and one of the best Mother Nature endless gifts.

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The legendary Blue Nile Falls is Africa’s treasure which provides a once in a life time experience…

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Within a blessed and beautiful land of ETHIOPIA!

Posted in Adventure, Africa, Bahr Dar, Coffee, culture, Ethiopia, Gojjam, Nature, Travel, Travel and Tourism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Kiremt: Celebrating Ethiopian Rainy Season Marvels


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Kiremt is an Amharic word that represents Ethiopian rainy season or winter. And officially, it is that time of year here in Addis Ababa and many other parts of the country when the rain is falling mercifully, the roads getting all muddy and the shivering cold taking its place.

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This particular post is dedicated to the Kiremt (Ethiopian Winter) marvels which are so close to many Ethiopian hearts including me and which we Ethiopians almost could not be able to go through without it at this time of cold season. Starting with the comfort food of Ethiopian rainy season, Bekolo (corn) is at the top of the list whether it’s roasted or boiled and seasoned with little bit of salt.

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Kiremt (Ethiopian Winter) would not be complete without the simply boiled Sikuar Dinich (Sweet Potato). This is one of Ethiopian household practices at this time of year to keep the house and the family warm inside and out.

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Even though, the rain, the cold and the mud transfer the city into a whole different world after almost ten months of beautiful sunshine. Addis Ababa’s street life never failed to entertain whether the locals or visitors alike with its interesting Kiremt scenes.

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Smelling the delicious roasting or boiling corn or even having it at every corner of the city, being able to transfer ones muddy shoes into a shiny one instantly by many enthusiastic Addis Ababa’s shoes shiners along the streets, seeing more colorful umbrellas, noticing Ethiopian women hair style changing along with the weather and I must say it is that time of year for witnessing works of art on braids (shruba) which is simply exotic and beautiful besides being one of Ethiopian Kiremt Marvels.

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Obviously, Kiremt is more like going back to home and keeping oneself warm and it is when the classic Gabi (Ethiopian blanket) comes in handy.

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Let it rain and Happy Kiremt!

Posted in Addis Ababa, Africa, culture, Ethiopia, Food, Fruit and Vegetable, Inspiration, Quote, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Watching Arba Minch Over Guge Hills


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FETIRA: Harar’s Breakfast Bliss


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To take the local flavor in, there is nothing like having breakfast at one of the eateries where locals patronize. Obviously, it is not the kind of buffet breakfast waiting for you down stairs at the hotel; rather it is more like a breakfast that takes strolling through the interesting Harar’s alleyways in the morning to discover the little coffee shop where the typical Harar’s breakfast is being prepared every morning for the locals by the locals… and most of all it is a particular place where I would really love to take the world with me through this virtual tour in honoring an ordinary everyday life.

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What makes worth walking up early in the morning in Harar and walking through the alleyways is the fact that it provides its very own unique scene of the old walled town (Jegol). There is no doubt, that the street breakfast delights are also one of the interesting scenes that curious travelers could discover while heading to one of the little local coffee shops hidden somewhere along the alleyways.

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Jegol’s street breakfast delights ranges from little fried foods made of chickpeas flour, little breakfast delights with eggs to simply boiled potatoes and accompanied with vacuum bottled hot drinks for a guzzled cup of home prepared strong Harar’s coffee or tea in honoring mornings on the move. I must say, seeing locals’ having street breakfast delights in the morning along the alleyways is one of the most mesmerizing experiences of Jegol (Harar’s old walled town).

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Fetira is the typical breakfast of Harar. Fetira is just simply fried filo dough cooked with egg, cut into little square pieces and served with Honey for a perfect combination of savory and sweet.

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The one interesting fact worth mentioning here is that there are slightly different versions of Fetira. Even though the main ingredients are wheat flour, egg and honey, at some eateries minced onion, green pepper and tomato are added into the mixture along with the well beaten eggs and fortunately this is the kind of Fetira which I came across at one of the local eateries in Harar and loved it.

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Fetira is also one of Addis Ababa Café’s breakfast sensations but you don’t usually get opportunities like Harar to see how this simple breakfast bliss is being prepared or to really see what’s in your breakfast so maybe this is one of the reasons why I really enjoyed my Harar Fetira experience so much besides the simply authentic palate of Fetira.

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This particular local eatery epitomizes the essence of Harar in so many and in its very own unique ways. The coffee shop is known for preparing the breakfast dish Fetira and serving it to its local customers so lovingly inside its two shambolic rooms. The one very thing which I found so enthralling is the huge frying pan that sits up on the long barrel filled with charcoal inside its top section.

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Harar is known for its affectionate and charismatic people and this is exactly what I experienced at this particular coffee shop where the locals come in have their Fetira for breakfast along with their well-known and strong Harar’s coffee or tea, chatting with the local chef who prepare Fetira so passionately and live every morning.

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This zealous, charming and Harar’s very own local chef kindly allowed me to capture this simple, mundane but precious Harar’s everyday life moments.

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Hara’s people knows how to entertain their guests in general so the chef and the rest of the staff of this particular coffee shop are also pros on keeping the conversation going till the food is ready… and learned from the best, I want to keep you busy while sharing few interesting details about this particular Harar’s breakfast dish so please stay with me.

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Eating Fetira is more like enjoying the crunchiness of the thin layer fried dough from the top and being rewarded by the savory and juicy taste of the egg and other ingredients that it accompanied with.

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If you really want to experience the perfect combination of sweet and savory and then eating Fetira with organic honey which usually comes along with it is the best way to go. In this case there is no doubt in enjoying the sweetness of the honey along with the crunchiness of the fried dough followed by the savory taste of the egg mixture from the inside which is simply delightful.

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You can eat Fetira with a fork piece by piece as it is usually comes into small square pieces or if you want to get intimate with your food like Ethiopians you can pick little piece of Fetira by hand and dip in the dollop of  honey … I assure you the return on your investment of inquisitiveness will be Scrumptious!

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And really, it was all about a matter of hands. Hands that played with the dough, beat the eggs, cut the vegetables, and bring out the plate out to the table and I call this serving up…

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… LOVE for breakfast.

Posted in Breakfast, culture, Ethiopia, Food, Food Travel, Harar, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments