(OAVA, 1 October 2013) The Australian Oromo Community in Melbourne celebrated its indigenous Oromo-African Thanksgiving Day , Irreechaa, at the Footscray Park river bank on 29 of September.
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 toOpride.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 Ixoraand 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.
Once Irreefannaa was done, the Oromo traditional banquet such as miciirra/shakaka, caccabsaa, marmaree, Daadhii (homemade honey wine) were shared.
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.
(Oromocentre, 7 June 2013) It is with great pleasure that to invite you to the annual Irreechaa festival, Oromo National Thanksgiving day, of the year on Sunday 29 September 2013.
Irreechaa Birraa is a celebration that repeats once in a year-in birraa and involves special activities or amusements as it has a lot of importance in our lives. 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.
Moving Forward: Promoting Oromummaa
This year’s Oromian Irreechaa Festival is going to be bigger and better than ever, with a whole theme park devoted to diverse Oromian cultural exhibitions. The theme of this national Thanksgiving Day is “Moving Forward: Promoting Oromummaa” in which it aims to celebrate Irreechaa festivals to follow and promote 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 and history, to pave the way for promotion of the Oromo culture, history and lifestyle and to celebrate Irreechaa, a national Thanksgiving Day.
We celebrate Irreechaa to thank Waaqaa for the blessings and mercies we have received throughout the past year at the sacred grounds of Hora Harsadi (Lake Harsadi), Bishoftu, Oromia. The Irreechaa festival is celebrated every year at the beginning of Birraa (the sunny new season after the dark, rainy winter season) throughout Oromia and around the world where Diaspora Oromos live.
We celebrate Irreechaa not only to thank Waaqaa (God) 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.
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 Oromians together
The Oromian Irreechaa Festival will not only serve as a medium for bringing all Oromians 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.
Please come and experience our Oromo culture with people from various communities, social organizations, agencies, volunteers, friends and families.
 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.