By Teferi Fufa and Yeshi Tolosa
Minneapolis, MN – On September 11, 2011, Irreechaa was colorfully celebrated at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Irreechaa is one of the ancient and premier holidays of the Oromo people. Oromo people, the largest ethno-national group in east Africa, inhabit most of the present day Ethiopia. Oromos are descendents of the ancient Cushitic people.
The Oromo Thanksgiving holiday is widely celebrated throughout the world by Oromo Diaspora communities and friends of the Oromo people. It is also celebrated as a National Holiday in Oromia, Ethiopia.
In attendance were hundreds of Oromo nationals and friends of the Oromo, all dressed in a variety of traditional attires. Prior to the commencement of the program, several volunteers arrived and set up tables and food preparation areas. Different kinds of Oromo traditional foods, some already prepared and others ready for preparation, were set in place.
The program started at 10:00a.m with Oromo traditional prayer after elders. Religious leaders, invited guests, members of the Oromo community of greater Minnesota, and friends of the Oromo people all assumed their places. A crowd of colorfully dressed attendees walked gracefully to the bank of the lake each with a handful of fresh grass.
After a moment of silence in remembrance of the September 11, 2001 attacks on America and solidarity with the families of the victims, one after the other, elders came forward and offered their prayers. The participants then left the bank of the river singing and gathered under the shadows of a grove of trees where the leader of the group gave a welcome address. The attendees were then invited to eat.
The celebration was filled with various events such as: traditional Oromo coffee ceremony (buna qalaa) where coffee is roasted with butter, a parade of traditionally dressed women, men, and children. Cultural songs, poems, and Oromo traditional tales were also featured. There was also an award ceremony presented to friends of the Oromo people who have shown genuine interest in and continually support the advancement of the Oromo culture.
A recent book by Dirribi Boku, the renowned leader of Macha Tulema Association, was given to those who demonstrated exceptional knowledge of Oromo culture and history. The award is meant to encourage the recipients to continue promoting the Oromo cultural heritage. Three others were awarded money for their knowledge of Oromo tradition such as marriage customs and different genres of Oromo songs.
The program was sponsored by Oromo businesses in the Twin Cities, Oromo Community organizations, Oromo media organizations, and Oromo youth groups.
Here are some videos from the event.