Oromo Irreechaa joyously celebrated in Melbourne
The Melbournians Oromo gather together at riverbanks and thank the Creator for past rains and ask for sustained weather and crops, for children to grow, for the sick to heal and for fraternity to prevail among human beings.
Melbourne based blogger of Far.From.Africa, Marion Cabanes, writes on her facebook timeline, “…I was invited by the Oromo Community (from present-day Ethiopia) to celebrate Ireechaa (‘Thanksgiving’) where Muslims and Catholics gathered to pay tribute to their god living in all parts of nature. Men explained how their women are powerful and respected in the community.”
A Melbourne-based human rights activist and freelance writer, Siinqee Wesho, reports the event to Opride.com.
As seen elsewhere, on Sep. 29, the Australian Oromo Community in Melbourne gathered at the Footscray Park and river to celebrate Irreecha. Their heart raced as if to catch the moving wind, their face radiated as if to outshine the sun, they all smiled and greeted each other from distances until they meet and hugged each other tightly and fondly. Nostalgia about the serenity and calmness of home set in.
At the Footscray Park, slightly damp green and evenly trimmed grass rose an inch above the ground. The morning’s mild wind propelled the leaves of various trees from left to right graciously. The Ixora and Bogenia shone brightly to reflect the onset of spring and the Footscray River stayed calm as if unaware of the activities around it.
South American drummers beat their drums uninterrupted, a group of Africans fried tender BBQ, and others simply basked in the sun while a curious few joined in the Irreecha festivities. Much of the park’s cosmos maintained its disorganized balance but the hearts of Oromo Melbournians beat erotically with excitement – as if the auspicious day was a therapy for their trauma for the loss of home, culture, and ways of being.
The green park was covered by the rainbow color of Oromia’s dress codes. Children run around showing off their Qoloo and Callee while women’s beads sparkled from their necks and foreheads. Men superbly dressed in Kumaala andBullukko (top wears) holding Bokkuu decorated in the colors of Faajjii Walaabuu.
Women holding their Siinqee and Coqorsaa (a bunch of thick untrimmed grass) led the crowd to the riverbank whilst chanting songs of prayers and thanksgiving. The crowd followed by repeating the chorus slowly behind. Once at the pointed creek, the elders explained the official Irreefanna procedure.
This involved elders from the Borana tribe; the Angafaas led the awaiting crowd with Eebba or blessings. Everyone dipped the Irreessa inside the water as the prayers went on.
The elders later explained, while dipping this grass in the water, one’s heart and mind has to forget worldly evil and focus on the good. This was a tender moment of forgiveness, thanksgiving, and gratitude for the bounties of Waaqa.
Once this was done, the public joyously exchanged greetings more as follows:
“Baga furdaa (bacaqii) gannaa baatanii booqaa birraa argitan, akkasuma kan hortanii horattan mara wajjiin saddeetni sadeetattii isiniif haa naannawu .” This roughly translates to Merry Spring and thanksgiving. May Waaqa bless your wealth and belongings throughout the Gadaa cycle.
The BBQ chops replaced the sheep that would be slaughtered in Oromo homes or festival places such asHulluqqoo in Borana and Hora Arsadi. Freshly roasted coffee filled the air and ushered in the Ragadaa, Shaggooyyee, Tirrii and Dhiichisa songs from around Oromia.
Young and old, men and women were drunk in celebration. A small group huddled together to recall something of Irreessa back home while others listened dreamily and intently.
As the sun sat over Melbourne, elders gave the final blessing to conclude the festivities on this significant day. For the first time in Melbourne, an aftermath party that was hosted by the Melbourne Oromo youth and notable musicians like Jawe Bora entertained the crowd till late night.
Far away from Oromia, the Oromo diaspora community eagerly expressed their longing for home in the best way possible. This was their way of saying: Aadaa bareeda qabna hin jiru ka keenna gituu, seenaa bareeda qabna hin jiru ka keenna gituu…yaa Oromoo kumnillee hin bitu.