Celebrating Oromo Irreechaa
Irreechaa is Thanksgiving celebration of the Oromo people of East Africa, Oromia. The Oromo people celebrate Irreechaa to thank Waaqaa (God) twice a year: Irreechaa Arfaasaa and Irreechaa Birraa.
Irreecha Arfaasaa is annual Oromo Thanksgiving Day that repeats once in May to mark the end of the dry season and beginning of the rainy and planting season. It marks the end of the dry season (October to April) and the beginning of the rainy season for planting (May to September). It is a unique Oromo cultural, historical and natural beautification (planting) in their full glory at the height of the season.
On this day, people come to gather on mountain tops to give thanks to the almighty Waaqaa(God) for all the blessings throughout the past dry season and ask for Araaraa(Reconciliation), Nagaa (Peace), Walooma (Harmony) and Finnaa (Holistic Development) for the present and the future. There is also a ceremony of thanking all forebears for their endurance and determination to survive their culture and history – paving the way for further social victory.
The May 30, 2015 Event – Mount Dandenong (Victoria, Australia)
The Oromo Community in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia warmly invite you to join them at the 2015 Irreecha Arfaasaa festival at Mount Dandenong. It is an Oromo Good Spirit tradition of respect for nature and gratefulness for life.
The theme of this coming Thanksgiving Day is “Moving Forward: Restoring the Good Spirit of Humanity” in which it aims to celebrate Irreechaa festivals to follow our tradition and religion in society, to create public awareness where Oromo cultural and religious issues will be discussed to provide a better understanding of Oromo culture, history and humanity, to pave the way for promotion of the Oromo culture, history, and lifestyle and to celebrate Irreechaa Arfaasaa, a national Spirit Day, both to thank Waaqaa for the blessings and mercies we have received throughout the past year and to welcome the new rainy season associated with hard working, challenging and respect for mother earth for caring and sharing. The ceremony honors elders’ blessings and wisdom, preserves the heritage and strengthen the progress of humanity.
During the event, we will be serving with Oromo foods and featuring with traditional dances by Oromo children, youth and dance troupes. “Please come and experience our Oromo culture with people from various communities, social organizations, agencies, volunteers, friends and families,”says the flyer of Irreechaa Arfaasaa.
Venue: Dandenong Ranges National Park, Sassafras, Victoria 3787, Australia
Date: May 30, 2015
Time: 11:30AM – 3:00PM
The Irreechaa Birraa is another annual Thanksgiving event that celebrated every year at the beginning of Birraa (the sunny new season after the dark, rainy winter season). This thanksgiving event is celebrated at the sacred grounds of Hora Harsadi (Lake Harsadi), Bishoftu, Oromia. It is celebrated throughout Oromia and around the world where diaspora Oromos live especially North America and Europe. It symbolizes the arrival of spring and brighten season with their vibrant green and daisy flowers.
It’s a day all Oromian’s celebrate and cherish due to our ties to our root: Oromo Identity and country. It’s a time for reflection, celebration and a good connection with our best heritage, Oromummaa.
The Oromo people consider the winter rainy season of June to September as the time of difficulty. The heavy rain brings with it lots of things like swelling rivers and floods that may drown people, cattle, crop, and flood homes. Also, family relationship will severe during winter rain as they can’t visit each other because of swelling rivers. In addition, winter time could be a time of hunger for some because of the fact that previous harvest collected in January is running short and new harvest is not ripe yet. Because of this, some families may endure food shortages during the winter.
In Birraa (the season after winter in Oromo land), this shortage ends as many food crops especially maize is ripe and families can eat their fill. Other crops like potato, barley, etc. will also be ripe in Birraa. Some disease types like malaria also break out during rainy winter time. Because of this, the Oromos see winter as a difficult season. However, that does not mean the Oromo people hate rain or winter season at all. Even when there is shortage of rain, they pray to Waaqaa (God) for rain.
Moreover, we are celebrating this auspicious event to mark the end of rainy season, known as Birraa, was established by Oromo forefathers, in the time of Gadaa Melbaa 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 September or the 1stSunday of the 1st week of October according to the Gadaa lunar calendar ‐‐ has been designated as our National Thanksgiving Day by modern‐day Oromo people. Oromo communities both at home and abroad celebrate this National Thanksgiving Day every year.
Irreechaa as a medium for bringing all Oromias together
The Oromian Irreechaa Festival will not only serve as a medium for bringing all Oromias together, from all its diasporas, as one voice, but will also focus on promoting and enhancing Oromummaa in freedom struggle, tourism, arts and crafts, business, restaurants and hospitality, and entertainment. Moreover as a moving and flourishing heritage, Irreechaa also connects our Oromo identity with the global civilization in which the industrial and manufacturing sectors of heavy and light machinery of natural resources and raw materials.
During the event, we will be serving with Oromo foods and featuring with traditional dances by Oromo children, youth and dance troupes. Irreechaa is about a lot more than just putting on shows, it encourages engagement and participation from everyone in the greater community across our great city, country and the globe.
The Oromo people celebrate Irreechaa Birraa not only to thank Waaqaa (God) but also to welcome the new season of plentiful harvests after the dark and rainy winter season associated with nature and creature. On Irreechaa festivals, friends, family, and relatives gather together and celebrate with joy and happiness. Irreechaa festivals bring people closer to each other and make social bonds.
Both Irreechaa Birraa and Irreecha Arfaasaa have been observed by the Oromo people for more than 6400 years.
 Rainy season symbolized as a dark, disunity and challenging time in Oromia.
 Gadaa Melbaa was established before 6400 years ago at Odaa Mormor, North-west Oromia.
 Mormor in Oromo means division, disunity, chaos.
 Gadaa Belbaa is the end time of starvation.