By Tuji Jidda
Irreechaa means Thanksgiving to ‘Waqaa’ or God. It originated among the Blue Nile-bound Cushitic people of Oromo thousands of years ago. Nowadays, at national level, it is celebrated in Bishoftu town in the State of Oromia at Lake Hora Arsadi. This festivity is celebrated on last Sunday of September. On the festival Aba Gadaas, community leaders and the community share their produces and address thanks to Waqaa for the blessed transition from the rainy season to the bright and colorful Birra season.
This historic holiday was highly suppressed during successive brutal Abyssinian regimes. With little informal type of “don’t ask, don’t tell” recognition it has gained over recent years, however, it started dramatically spreading and regaining its lost position. Accordingly, these days, millions of pilgrims from all corners of Oromia and other parts of Ethiopia attend the sacred Oromo-wisdom traditional holiday celebration, especially, at Hora.
This year’s historical “Irreechaa” (Thanksgiving) holiday in the Washington, D.C., metro area was celebrated colorfully at College Park Lake, Maryland. Present on the occasion were prominent Oromos of different regions and invited dignitaries as well as friends of the Oromo people.
On the occasion, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee made a short speech in which he briefly elaborated the peace-loving nature of the once banned Waqeeffataa, its moral values, its historical importance and its contribution to the cultural and moral development for the subjugated Oromo people, in particular, and the great Cushitic Ethiopians, in general.
After that the ‘Abba Mudaa’ from Tulamaa Oromo of North America was endorsed by acclamation to serve as a spiritual leader (patriarch) of Waqeffataa based on the Gadaa principle. Then, the special event of thanking Waqayoo was celebrated with different activities.
The other interesting part of the feast included “Hammachiissa” which means “hammachuu”. Accordingly, the Abba Mudaa hugged and blessed children (this tradition is similar to ‘Santa Claus’), and then gave them “Hammachiisa” names, which were basically Cushitic Oromo names.
A day before, the Oromo New Year’s holiday called “Gubaa” was also celebrated, from which “Damera” is said to had been adapted. The event marks the beginning of Oromo New Year.
Oromos of all regions and religions took part in this year’s Irreechaa festival as ‘Waqaa’ embraced people of different religions and beliefs, and that its core principles have no contradiction with the “Ten Commandments.”
Representatives in attendance included:-
- Tulamaa, commonly called Shawa Lixaa & Shawaa Kabaa, representing 3 million people;
- Macaa, representing 3 million people;
- Jille, commonly called Shawa Bahaa, representing 1.8 million people;
- Arsi, includes Baalee, representing 5 million people;
- Ituu, commonly called Hararghe Lixaa, representing 2.6 million people;
- Afran Qalloo, commonly called Hararghe Bahaa, representing 2.7 million people;
- Karrayyuu, representing 0.9 million people;
- Wallaggaa, representing 4.2 million people;
- Gujjii, commonly called Sidama, representing 1.9 million people;
- Boraana, commonly called Sidama, representing 2.2 million people;
- Shanan Gibee, commonly called Jimmaa, representing 2.7 people;
- llu Aba-Bora, representing 2.1 million people;
- Wallo, representing 2.3 million people; and
- Wombara and Abbayyii Oromo.
Emphasized on the occasion was the need for unanimously recognition of Irreechaa as prominent Oromo culture and moral system that should be reserved, strengthened and passed from generation to generation irrespective of whatever other religions people believed in or forced to believe in. Also, participants reached an understanding that such a great event helped regain the lost Oromo identity and the most democratic Gadaa System while at the same time defying proponents of Solomonid propaganda who tried to impose their corrupt culture on Irreechaa followers based on false history derived from fabricated myths.
During the late afternoon luncheon party, the newly elected spiritual leader, Abba Mudaa, called not only for the support of all Cushitic Ethiopian, but also for further strengthening of the Irreechaa culture.
To this end he stressed the call for:
- The Irreechaa holiday, being an important Oromo holiday, should be legally recognized as an official holiday like all others that are now officially inscribed as such in the country’s calendar, and
- Request the holly Hora Arsadi and its surrounding land, that have been confiscated during the cruel regimes – including the land occupied by the nearby Hora Ras Hotel, be negotiated for spiritual Irreechaa holly place so it can serve as a sanctuary (galma) (like a mosque or a church or a synagogue).