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Artists Celebrating Ashenda

Ashenda stands as a distinctive religious and cultural festival observed annually in the Tigray and Amhara Regional States, spanning from August 16 to 21. The term “Ashenda” originates from Tigrinya, denoting the lush, tall green grass that reaches an impressive height of approximately 80 to 90 centimeters. In the rich tapestry of this traditional celebration, blades of this grass are scattered on floors in homes and shops, serving as a unique form of welcome.

Unmarried girls and young women exhibit their dexterity by intricately weaving the grass into bundles, which they then carry on their backs while joyfully participating in the festivities’ dances. This practice adds to the festival’s elusive charm.

Ashenda holds special significance as it concludes a two-week fasting period known as Filseta, during which devotees of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church congregate to pay homage to the Virgin Mary.

During the Ashenda occasion, also referred to as Shaday or Ahendiye in the Amhara regional state, young women and girls don their finest traditional attire, known as “tilfi.” This ensemble comprises a cotton dress adorned with exquisite embroidery extending from the neckline down to the hem of the dress. To enhance their appearance, the girls bedeck themselves with an array of splendid jewelry.

As the celebration unfolds, the participants assemble in village or city centers, forming smaller groups that proceed to visit households. Accompanied by their melodic singing and the rhythmic beat of drums, they stop at each dwelling to perform dances and songs. This interactive custom prompts people to offer them monetary contributions, food, beverages, and other items as tokens of appreciation for their efforts. The girls continue this heartwarming tradition throughout the day, journeying from house to house, occasionally pausing in village or city centers to share their music and dance before resuming their tour anew.

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