The day dedicated to the fair sex

The time is just coming. The days when we can watch beautiful, confident and jubilant girls with smile stamped faces, amazing costumes and beautiful hair dos in groups pour out into the streets are drawing closer.

The girls have the power to titillate everyone’s heart with their melodious songs accentuated by drum beats and traditional dances. They are referred to the Ashenda’s and Shadey’s girls.

Ashenda or Shadey is a very colorful girls’ festivity in northern Ethiopia Tigray and Amhara states. It is celebrated every mid-August. The festival has different names in different places or states. It is called Solel in Raya and Kobo area, while Ayniwar and Mariya in Axum and Adigrat towns respectively.

The name “Ashenda” is derived from long grasses whose minimum height is estimated to fall between 80 to 90 cm. Following the heavy rain of the summer season (Kiremit) the grasses thrive and grow longer in every part of the nation. The girls make a miniskirt out of such grasses to be tide around their waists as a decoration.

The girls attach a great value to the event which they are eagerly waiting.

This celebration allows girls freedom to while the days together outdoor marking the event going from village to village and door to door. The event is all about the end of two weeks fasting or (Tsome Filseta) to honor Virgin Mary.

On this girls’ holiday, they go around in groups singing and dancing with their eye – caching cultural clothes and collecting gifts from residents of the locality. Observers of the proceedings express admiration to them. Especially males feast their eyes on the girls’ beauty. They give gifts for them.

On the event calendar, Ashenda or Shadey is dedicated to girls. People appreciate the girls for brightening their days.

This unique Northern Ethiopian Traditional Festival is eagerly awaited by the young ladies.

Many regret missing the festival. This year’s event will start after some days. It is expected to be celebrated warmly in different areas of Tigray. Fulfilling preconditions is underway to officially celebrate the event in Mekele, the capital of Tigray, Abadi Desta Communication Director of Tigray State Culture and Tourism Office told to The Ethiopian Herald.

Ashenda has its own splendor. Women wear embroidered white clothes. They put on necklaces, earrings and the like.

 There are jewelries for hand, leg waist and for other parts of body which make them different, Abadi said.

A culture will be birthed in one place but it can develop and ripple worldwide. This festival has been celebrated warmly in northern Ethiopia but it is also not completely foreign in other Ethiopian parts.

The government has also announced plan to celebrate this event in Addis in a better fashion than ever before. This will certainly add something for the nation’s tourism sector.

The Ashenda or Shadey foregrounds girls. As to Abadi, it marks women’s freedom day. Girls practice democratic ideals; they ridicule their society and also lampoon the government via their song verses. So this celebration has its own contribution towards women’s empowerment.

Girls and also ladies can show their capacity and beauty. It also helps them to introduce themselves to others. That is why it is said a day of women, he stated.

It is not only to the aforementioned issues this event is confined. It as well creates high job opportunities for the society who produce clothes and jewelries for girls. Job seekers can supply different goods for the people on the street, he added.

Efforts are underway to get the event registered on UNESCO’s list. Both Amhara and Tigray States in concert with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism are trying to see to things. It had produced and sent documents for UNESCO and it is expecting feedback. When it inscribed on UNESCO’s list, Shadey or Ashenda may become one of the precious intangible wealth of the world.

What makes it different from the pack is it has to do with members of the fair sex.

The Ethiopian Herald Sunday Edition 11 August 2019


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