News: Sidama State begins first Fichee Chambalaalla celebrations since becoming regional state

pre-Fich Chembelala celebration activities were underway in the regional state throughout this week. Picture: Sidama regional state secretariat

Addis Abeba – Sidama Regional State began festivities marking the colorful Fichee Chambalaalla celebrations, Sidama people’s New Year. The celebrations this year, which will begin at Soressa Gudumale square in Hawassa, mark the first since the Sidama state became an autonomous regional state following a referendum in November 2019. It is also the first public celebration after it was interrupted due to Covid 19 global pandemic.

Desta Ledamo, President of the region, said in his message in connection with the celebrations that this year’s Fichee Chambalaalla Festival was unique because it is the first after Sidama Regional State was established and it will be celebrated with various festivities in the regional state throughout the month, according to the President’s office.

Collection of pictures from past Fiche Chambalala celebrations. Pictures: UNESCO/Agencies/SocialMedia

This morning senior Oromia regional state government officials led by regional President Shimelis Abdissa, as well as members of the House of Peoples’ Representatives, and senior federal officials and guests from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism arrived in the region’s capital Hawassa to participate in the celebrations.

Last week, before deciding the date for this year’s Fichee Chambalaalla, Sidama elders known as Ayaanto, came together to observe the movements of the star and have decided that the main celebrations will be on 28 and 29 April. However, various activities and festivities will continue through the month of May, according to the regional state press secretariat bureau.

In 2015, the UNESCO had inscribed Fichee-Chambalaalla on its “Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

About Fichee Chambalaalla (By UNESO)

Fichee Chambalaalla is a New Year festival celebrated among the Sidama people. According to the oral tradition, Fichee commemorates a Sidama woman who visited her parents and relatives once a year after her marriage, bringing buurisame, a meal prepared from false banana, milk and butter, which was shared with neighbors. Fichee has since become a unifying symbol of the Sidama people. Each year, astrologers determine the correct date for the festival, which is then announced to the clans. Communal events take place throughout the festival, including traditional songs and dances. Every member participates irrespective of age, gender and social status. On the first day, children go from house to house to greet their neighbors, who serve them buurisame. During the festival, clan leaders advise the Sidama people to work hard, respect and support the elders, and abstain from cutting down indigenous trees, begging, indolence, false testimony and theft. The festival therefore enhances equity, good governance, social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and integration among Sidama clans and the diverse ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Parents transmit the tradition to their children orally and through participation in events during the celebration. Women in particular, transfer knowledge and skills associated with hairdressing and preparation of buurisame to their daughters and other girls in their respective villages.

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