(Waaqeffannaa, June 12, 2022) The Oromo community in Melbourne, Australia celebrates the Irreecha Arfaasaa festival in a grand manner.
The festival, which is celebrated on June 12, began with a blessing by the elders. Oromo mothers and fathers prayed for peace and mercy to all creatures.
The celebrators also offered silence of remembrance and prayers for the martyrs of the 2016 Irreecha massacre and those who paid their sacrifices to pass on the tradition of Irreechaa.
The Irreechaa festival was cancelled for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the organisers, it would celebrate at the family level to preserve the spirit of the holiday.
Participants said they are happy to celebrate the Irreecha Arfaasaa together with their community in this year celebration held at Kokoda Track Memorial Walk (1000 Steps).
On the occasion, the people are urged to follow the laws and guidelines issued by the government to protect themselves and their families from the dangers of COVID and flu.
Irreecha Arfaasaa Spirit
Irreecha is a day of thanksgiving celebrated in the hills or mountains at the end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season.
The Oromo people who go to the mountains for this event not only gather for thanksgiving but also to pray for the achievement of Araaraa (reconciliation), Nagaa (peace), Waloomaa (harmony) and Finnaa (holistic development).
Irreecha celebrated on the top of the hills or mountains is called Irreecha Arfaasaa. Sometimes, it’s also called (‘Festival of the Good Spirit’). This festival is celebrated by the Oromo people in May/June.
Two seasonal Irreechaa
Traditionally, Oromo people celebrate two seasonal Irreechaa festivals nationwide. One is Irreecha Birraa that is celebrated in late September (or early October) during the sunny season and the late rainy season.
The second one is Irreecha Arfaasaa which is celebrated during the rainy season (i.e., the harvest season). This seasonal Irreechaa is celebrated to bring good spirit with rain and heat; By the way, mothers spread their seeds on the ground during the rainy season only to ensure that the last seeds will be turned into humans.
Purpose and Meaning
Irreecha Arfaasaa is an annual Oromo Thanksgiving Day that is repeated once a month in May or in June.
On this day, people have a ceremony to thank their ancestors for their determination to continue their culture and history. The dry season ends (October to April and the rainy season begins (May to September).
Respecting nature and being grateful for life are an Oromo good spirit culture. Its ceremonies celebrate the blessings and wisdom of the elders, preserve the heritage, and appraise the growth of the human child.
The Importance of Irreechaa Festival
Irreechaa festivals have a great contribution to social cohesion. Because the festival focuses on cultural issues, it helps to recognise community members and their values. During the festival, community elders share traditional laws, culture, legends, and customs with the community with examples of how to maintain community and family unity.
Irreechaa provides the opportunity to forget all our worries and celebrate the good aspects of our life. It helps us to keep our emotions balanced and to reduce negativity in our life. It also provides an opportunity to reduce unhealthy habits and unites conflicting neighbours and relatives in a loving bond.
Irreecha brings together people from all religious, economic and social backgrounds.
The Oromo people celebrate Irreechaa not only to thank Waaqa (God) but also to interact with nature and welcome the new rainy winter season. On Irreechaa festivals, friends, family, and relatives gather together and celebrate with joy and happiness.
Irreechaa festivals are a festival stage that brings people together and shares good values that create social bonds. Moreover, the Oromo people celebrate this exciting winter festival to welcome the beginning of winter and winter with joy.
Irreechaa was founded by Oromo ancestors in Gadaa Meelbaa in Mormor, Oromia. The auspicious day on which this last Mormor Day of Gadaa Belbaa — the Dark Time of starvation and hunger- was established on the 1st Sunday of last week of May or the 1st Sunday of the 1st week of June according to the Gadaa lunar calendar. It was celebrated as the second winter Thanksgiving by the modern Oromo people.
Irreecha has been celebrated by the Oromo people for over 6400 years.