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Post-war joy in Tigray as Ashenda Festival celebrated

Ashenda Festival

A sense of joy and celebration pervades Mekelle, the main city in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray, as people mark the Ashenda Festival.

The cultural event was cancelled during the two-year civil war that ended November.

It is a significant festival, held in Tigray and Amhara regions as well as neighboring Eritrea, to honor the Virgin Mary’s ascension to heaven.

The name Ashenda is derived from the long, thin grass that young women and girls tie around their waist to decorate traditional dresses.

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Despite it being the rainy season, girls and young women go out together in groups of six to eight and sing Ashenda songs as they go from house to house, where they are given bread and a local beer called siwa.

After this they go to a nearby field or park, where they relax and sing for those passing by.

Men are encouraged to given them gifts of money in thanks, which are usually donated to the Orthodox Church or other charities after the celebration.

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