Ashenda Celebration Of Girl Child In Federal Democratic Republic Of Ethiopia
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the north and northeast, Djibouti and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south. With over 102 million inhabitants, Ethiopia is the most populous landlocked country in the world and the second-most populous nation on the African continent. It occupies a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometers (420,000 sq mi), and its capital and largest city is Addis Ababa.
Today, we will discover untold stories of Ethiopia. Most of the world imagines that Africa gives the least of freedom towards its females. Africa is known for underage marriage and gender based violence among other things. This might be somewhat true, but Africa is not the worst continent for girls. In Ethiopia and Eritrea there is celebration for girls only. Girls wear colorful clothes, sing and dance without fear, and it goes on for days.
This celebration is called Ashenda. But there are also some other names for the celebration, in Agaw language they called it Shadey and its also called Solel around Raya Kobbo, in Adigrat town it is called Mariya, however in Aksum town it is called Ayniwari. This festival is celebrated in August. Ashenda marks the end of a two week-long fast known as Filseta when adherents of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church gather to honour the Virgin Mary. The name Ashenda or Shadey is derived from the “tall green grass”, estimated at around 80–90 cm minimum height which grows around July and August and that the girls wear around their waists during the holiday. The celebration takes place between August 15 and September 11 every year. Some cities celebrate it for 3 days while the others celebrate it for weeks.
In some places like Raya, Enderta, and Tembienit is celebrated typically from August 16 to September 11. In Wag Hemra zone and Raya Kobo, it is celebrated from August 16 to 18 where as in Adigrat town it is celebrated from August 15 to 17. In Aksum town it is deferent; it is celebrated from August 23 to 25. There are myths about where this celebration originated from. One is the story of king Yoftahe. In the ancient times there was a king called Yoftahe. This king promised his God that if he won the war he would sacrifice the first thing he see when he got home, hoping he would meet his sheep first. He won the war but when he got home he didn’t find his sheep first, rather his only daughter ran towards him. He felt so sad. He sat down and told her about the promise he made to God. His daughter told him that he couldn’t break his promise. She said “give me some time to play and cry with my friends and then you can fulfill your promise.”
And so, young girls use this time to play and enjoy their girl time before entering woman hood. All the young girls gather around singing and beating drums, while the boys keep an eye on them from a distance, to make sure they are safe from any wild animals or harassments. It is also said this celebration is to remember the ascension of Virgin Mary (mother of Jesus).
On the eve of the celebration,young girls get busy buying or cleaning their jewelries, breading their hairs with different styleand collecting Ashenda’s from the field. Ashenda girl don’t wear common clothes on this much-awaited event since it’s their special day.
They wear special colorful dress with unique hair styles and jewels on theirnecks as well as ornaments on hands, ears and feet. No family in their right mind denies their young daughters this.
Everybody looks quite beautiful. There is even a saying “don’t ask for a hand in marriage from a girl you found playing Ashenda”. For the girls use different traditional make ups and jewelries and one can’t discern her natural looks. No one can ask an Ashenda participant girl to do something, not even her family. It is freedom time for them. They sing and play all day long. They chant songs and show their grooving styles with eye catching costumes.
For the past three years there have been some petitions to inscribe the Ashenda ceremony as an intangible heritage at the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural organization, UNESCO in order to get more recognition, protection and treatment at international level.
I hope we will succeed