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From: Monday, September 3 2007, 8:00 am
to: Sunday, September 9 2007, 3:00 pm
A small pilgrimage site at Lake Hora, near Debre Zeyit, is visited once a year by the Oromo, one of the largest Ethiopian tribes. The Irecha rite probably originated among the Nile-bound Kushitic people thousands of years ago. It is based on the vaguely monotheistic worship and propitiation of Waqa, the law-forming force of nature. Worshippers ask for favours, fertility, health and good fortune. The Irecha celebrated around Lake Hora is one of two rites, properly named Melka Irecha. The other Irecha rite, Terara Irecha, is celebrated on top of mountains. The ceremony centres on sacred trees, which are dotted around the area, in particular around a specific ancient fig tree, where most of the faithful gather. The blood of animals is poured on the roots of the trees and butter, perfume and Katickala, a traditional drink, are smeared on the trunks. Ceremonial meals are shared under the trees, consisting of coffee, a traditional drink called tella, roasted meat and araki, toasted maize. The time of this pilgrimage may vary. Our best estimate is that it takes place on the first Sunday after Meskal, the 'Finding of the True Cross', and hence near the end of September / beginning of October. Check with the tourist office in Addis Abbaba before you leave.
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