Friday, September 22, 2023

I was forced to sell the precious thing in our house

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I argued with my husband, I was forced to sell the precious thing in our house. No documents show exactly when and how the festival began and grew. It has withstood the test of time and continues to exist today, passing on traditions to descendants for generations. His Teshome Habte, head of the Wollaita Zone Culture and Tourism Department, told me how his ancestors set the dates for the New Year celebrations. “According to legend, chroniclers went out at night to investigate the origin of the lunar cycles to determine the changes of the seasons. They distinguished the phases of the moon and called them poua, Tuma, Terra, and Gobana.” According to Teshome, traditional astrologers passed on their observations to his King Kao of Wollaita and based on this, determined the exact date of the New Year festival. King’s messengers then announced the approach of the festival to the people at all markets and other public gatherings. The announcement could be months in advance. To this day, this tradition continues, with all members of the community including fathers, mothers, young men and women, and even children playing a unique role in preparing for the Gifata festival. Towards the end of June, mothers prepare Gifata with various traditional dishes. Young people from all neighborhoods gather to go to the forest. Cut down trees that seem useless, drag them and pile them up in one place. This practice is called Guuliyaa among the locals. About 15 days before the Lunar New Year, a pillar is erected, and the collected firewood is arranged vertically around it to make a large bonfire. During the three weeks leading up to the Gifata Festival, a unique open market is held for the public. They are known to herald the approach of New Year’s celebrations.

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