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Fichee Chembelala

Festivals & Holidays

Fichee Chembelala

Fichee Chembelala is a two-day celebration dating back thousands of years, which the Sidama people observe to usher in New Year. This year the festivities took place at the Sidama Cultural Centre, with the usual flair and bang that accompanies this holiday. From the celebrations at the shores of Hawassa to the elderly Ayantos who decide the date of the celebration, there is plenty to see and enjoy during this remarkable longstanding celebration.

There was much to celebrate during this year’s Fichee Chembelala Celebration. During Fichee, on July 13th, Desse Dalke, president of the Southern Nations and Nationalities region, told a packed crowd at the Sidama Cultural Center that Hawassa University graduated the first ever batch of students majoring in Sidama language. With so much excitement engulfing the crowd, the President also added to the celebration by announcing that UNESCO is considering Fichee Chembelala to be registered as one of the intangible world heritages after applying in September 2014.

Fichee Chembelala is one of the main events on the calendar of Hawassa city. A multitude of people are visible on the streets to celebrate the Fichee (Eve) and Chembelala (New Year) festivity of the Sidama people.

The people seen in droves almost everywhere in the city are a center piece of the Chembelala celebration at Gudumalle, shore of Hawassa lake. This event draws people from every place and age group who are draped in colorful traditional clothes while holding unique cultural items like long spears. This really adds to the vibrancy of this festive event.

What makes Fichee Chembelala so special from any other celebration in Ethiopia is that the exact date of the commemoration is not known by the average person, until elders of the communitydetermine and announce when the celebration will occur. These elders are referred to as Ayantos. Ayantos settle on the date of the Fichee Chembelala by reading the stars and sun alignment.

Walking through the crowd there were a variety of people attending the event. Fichee Chembelala gathers not only the people of the region, but also the country and world.

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