Irreechaa Devoted to Cultivate Peace

A man waves an Oromo flag as people from community of Oromo from different parts of Ethiopia gather at Meskel square in Addis Ababa, on October 5, 2019 on the eve of Irreecha, their thanksgiving festival that they will celebrate for the first time in the capital. - The Oromo People celebrate Irreecha to thank Waaqa (God) for the blessings and mercies they have received throughout the previous year. The thanksgiving is celebrated at the sacred grounds of Hora Harsadi (Lake Harsadi), Bishoftu, Oromia. (Photo by YONAS TADESSE / AFP)

(Waaqeffannaa, Melbourne, 4 October 2019) — The Oromo Irreecha Birraa celebration held on 29 September 2019 for the 15th time in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia at Berwick Botanic Park.

The ceremony was celebrated at Berwick Botanic Park to praise Waaqa (God) for peace, health, fertility and abundance they were given with regards to the people, livestock, harvest and the entire Oromo land.

Head of the Irreechaa Committee, Ob Abdeta Homa said the celebration is to strengthen and promote Oromo culture, particularly the Irreechaa celebration in Melbourne.

Ob Abdeta Homa, Head of the Irreechaa Committee at Irreechaa 2019

According to the organisers the festival was designed to provide a better understanding of Oromo peace, freedom, dignity, culture, history and humanity, to pave the way for promotion of the Oromo culture, history, lifestyle and practice.

Oromo elders’ blessings at Irreechaa 2019, Melbourne

The ceremony honoured the Oromo elders’ blessings and wisdom, and eventually helped to preserve the Oromo heritage and strengthen the Oromo Peace and the progress of humanity. It is also committed to provide care and respect for mother earth.

Irreechaa is the annual Oromo people Thanksgiving Day that is celebrated every year in Birraa near the river bank or water and tree.

Irreechaa is celebrated every year in the end of September or beginning of October in various part of the globe where the Oromo community resides.

The celebration in Melbourne was held in the context of the country while cultural values of the Irreechaa celebration are maintained.

According to Irreechaa committee member Danye Dafarsha Irreechaa is a sign of reciprocating Waaqa in the form of providing praise for what they got in the past, and is also a forum of prayer for the future.

“Irreechaa is the celebration of peace, unity and cooperation where the celebrants carrying bunch of straw and daisies in their hands praising, blessing and praying Waaqa in their songs. It is very important for our community as it brings the community together and helps to connect and share experiences in their day to day life.”

After many years’ unseen events, the first national Irreechaa Festival was held in 1991 in Oromia, East Africa and later became an annual event, which now runs for five weeks, and is one of the most pleasant reminders in Oromia that spring has definitely sprung!

Ob Danye Dafarsha, Irreechaa committee member, Melbourne

“Here in Australia, Melbourne, we continue this fabulous event every year for more than fifteen years.

“The celebrations are unique in that the Melbourne celebration has come again and that contributes to the development of Oromummaa in the Diaspora,” Ob Danye said.

Currently, Irreechaa has got publicity among the non-Oromos (Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians alike) to the extent that Finfinnee City Administration recognized the celebration for the first time and granted Oromo the whole support for the ritual.

In the traditional religion of the Oromos, the spirit is the power through which Waaqaa  (The Almighty God) governs all over the world. Thus, Oromos believe that every creation of Waaqaa has its own spirit.

Moving Forward: Cultivate Peace

This year’s Oromian Irreechaa Festival is going to be bigger and better than ever, with a whole theme park devoted to Oromian Peace where everyone’s contribution is valued in peace building process and implementation.

The theme of this year national Thanksgiving Day is “Moving Forward: Cultivate Peace” in which it aims to celebrate Irreechaa festivals as a medium for bringing all Oromias together to cultivate and promote peace in our daily practice where the members are willing to work together to find the solution that meets the needs of Oromo people.

The theme also aims to create public awareness where Oromo cultural and religious issues will be discussed, to provide a better understanding of Oromo peace, culture and history, to pave the way for promotion of the Oromo peace, culture, history and lifestyle and to celebrate  Oromo Irreechaa.

What is Irreechaa?

Traditionally, the Oromo practiced Irreechaa (Thanksgiving) ritual as a thanksgiving celebration twice a year (in autumn and spring) to praise Waaqa (God) for peace, health, fertility and abundance they were given with regards to the people, livestock, harvest and the entire Oromo land.

Irreechaa is celebrated as a sign of reciprocating Waaqa in the form of providing praise for what they got in the past, and is also a forum of prayer for the future. In such rituals, the Oromo gather in places with symbolic meanings such as hilltops, river side and shades of big sacred trees.  These physical landscapes are chosen for their representations in Oromo worldviews, for example, green is symbolized with fertility, peace, abundance and rain.

Irreechaa is not only practiced among the Oromo in Oromia. As hundreds of the Oromo are in exile for different reasons, their culture, religion, language and identity also exiled with them. Because Irreechaa has a cultural ambiance in connecting the people to Oromo land and the creator, Waaqa, it still remained as strong element of connection between the Oromo in diaspora and home – Oromia.

In the past ten years or so, the Oromo across different parts of the world (from Toronto to Melborne and Bergen to Johannesburg) have come together and celebrated Irreechaa as a common icon of their identity. If anything could be mentioned in bridging the differences (political and religious) within Oromo in the diaspora, Irreechaa has become the major binding force not as a mere cultural or religious practice but for its conjoint constitution of culture and identity.

Unresolved Oromo Issues

For over six thousand years, the Oromo people maintained a unique national identity distinct from the national identity of Abyssinia. In 1900, the Abyssinian rulers invaded the land of Oromo people and embarked on a policy of occupation and oppression that seriously threatens the continued survival of the unique cultural and religious identity of the Oromo people. We are extremely concerned about the human rights abuses in Oromia. Tragically, a world that condemns dictators has largely ignored Abyssinia’s occupation of Oromo land.

The human cost to the Oromo people has been of tragic proportions. Hundreds of thousands of Oromo’s were killed outright or died as the result of aggression, torture or starvation. Over 8,000 sacred places and centre of Gadaas were destroyed. The repression of the Oromo people in their own land continues to this day and compounds the illegitimacy of the Abyssinian rule.

The Oromo people have demonstrated repeatedly against the Abyssinian occupation. Their struggle is manly nonviolent and worthy of our special attention. We continue to advocate for the cause of Oromo people and for peace, tolerance, human rights, non-violence, and equality throughout the region. As our freedom fighters say, for the peace and harmony to truly turn to Oromian, our stolen natural rights must be respected.

Our Theme: Cultivate Peace!!

The theme of this year Irreechaa celebration is simple: Cultivate Peace!! As Oromo, while we continue to advocate for the cause of Oromo people, we will work to build peace in Oromia through celebrations .

We can still overcome our multi-faces obstacles as fast as we holding our glory history and culture to ensure the survival of identity.  No matter where you live, you can begin to develop the art of peace building based on your own experiences and expertise. Here are some framed habits that will help us to learn how to cultivate peace in Oromia:

Habit #1 – Be Calm and Centered

At your deepest level, peace is the natural state of the mind. Not being peaceful happens in so many small ways, when you are worried, restless, distracted, uneasy, or dissatisfied. Begin being mindful of those signals from your inner world. When you feel them, take a moment to return to your calm space. You can pause and take a few deep breaths or meditate. Either works well. This is about learning how to act upon early signals that peace is not there inside.

Habit #2 – Conscious Participation

To create peace consciousness, stay out of conversations that include gossip, blame, backbiting, and discussions of how terrible the world is. I don’t mean for you to be Pollyanna and act as if everything is perfect, but I suggest focusing on NOT participating (feeding the fire) when you can feel that a situation is turning toward anger, resentment, envy, and hostility in any form.

Habit #3 – Don’t Take Sides

Peace consciousness wants peace to be equally shared by everyone. This isn’t possible if you take sides, judge against others, or indulge in us-versus-them thinking. Be aware of everyone’s right to have it. When you find yourself reacting with a knee-jerk response against a certain person, group, faith, ethnicity, or belief system, remind yourself that you can hold a different viewpoint while still wishing peace for all concerned.

Habit #4 – The Intention of Peace

Be in the intention and show up as your best Self. Anytime I witness or confront a situation I set the intention of a peaceful resolution to be found for everyone. You can sit quietly at times and set the intention to let your heart go out to those not at peace.

Habit #5 – Connect

When you get together with others with the intention of peace, the consciousness grows for everyone. Start finding ways to commune with others who want it. This could be singing with others, sitting with a friend, or discussing the topic with a sympathetic person. You could join a group that helps prevent violence. The key is to feel the warmth of sharing it with others.

Habit #6 – Be of Service

It does little good to be at peace passively in isolation. Let yourself experience the kindness, good will, and compassion you can bring to a troubled situation. It could be helping in a community project, volunteering to spend time with the elderly, or leading a book club. Your aim is to give and receive at the level of peace that benefits everyone.

Habit #7 – The Peace of the Soul

From the Soul’s perspective, there is only pure Being. Take time to meditate on compassion, reverence for life and unity. You can imagine seeing a light expanding from your heart in all directions. Let simply being here be enough. Realize deeply that you are an indispensable part of the journey.

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