Ashenda is a unique Tigraian traditional festival which takes place in August to mark the ending of fasting called filseta. This event is mostly for girls and young women, which they await very eagerly every year. It is unique to the people in the state of Tigrai in northern Ethiopia. The name of the festival "Ashenda" comes from the name of a tall grass that the girls make in to a skirt and ware it around their waist as a decoration.
The young women and girls dress the best traditional dresses called tilfi which is a cotton dress decorated with amazing embroidery from the neck to toe in front of the dress. The girls also adorned them selves with array of beautiful jewelry.
After they gather in the village or city center they divide in to small groups and they go house to house singing and playing their drums. They stop at ever house and sing and dance for the people in the houses. It is customary for people to give them money, food and drinks and other items for their efforts. They continue the whole day going from house to house and occasionally stopping in a village or city center and singing and dancing for a while before they go on again on their tour.
A week or so after the celebrations started, the event comes to an end with all the girls from the village or the town coming together in the center of the town or a village singing and dancing until sun down. This time the young boys join in more like spectators than active players.
The women of Tigrai are known for their beauty in Ethiopia. Women in Tigrai might ware Variety of hairstyles based on their age and marital status. Young girls shave their hair on the side of their head leaving some hair at the back of the head and around the head. The shaved part slowly closes over the years, by the time a young lady is married and have a kid she officially enters womanhood and she wears the fully braided hair do. There are many styles of braiding from the very fine called gilbich to a course one called albaso. All the hairdo styles show the most amazing artistic skills of the people developed for ages.
The Tigrai women hair style is unique to the people of Tigrai. It takes long time to do the fine hair braids and it is not done by anybody, there are women who specialize in the skill and that is what they do for a living. When it is done it looks like an art more than hair style. The jewelry that is worn by Tigrai women is also very unique to the region it is usually made mainly of gold and silver and sometimes copper.
The following picture shows the many hair style braids that can be worn by women and young girls in Tigrai. Even though, modern hair style can be seen in many cities and town of Tigrai, most women stick to the thousands year old traditional style.
Coffee is a very important ceremonial drink in Tigrai. The coffee ceremony is common through out the state and most of Ethiopia. Fresh beans are roasted; while they are hot and smoking they are passed around by the coffee maker usually a girl for blessing. The roasted beans are ground and served in very small richly decorated ceramic cups. The coffee is served in three rounds. The first round is called Awell, the second Bereka and the third Dereja. It is customary to show you appreciation by telling the person who is making and serving the coffee how good the coffee is.
Tihlo is a unique food that originated from the eastern part of Tigrai, northern Ethiopia. Now days tihlo is spreading throughout Ethiopia. Tihlo is a very healthy food, it is easy to make, and the most delicious food you ever tested. Tihlo is made primarily made of barley flour. When you eat tihlo Each bite is dipped in to a spicy stew made especially for.
As many people around the globe Tigrai people have long used face scarification for the expression of cultural identity. When a baby is about two to six year old a traditional doctor will cut two very small incisions on the temple of the kid. Sometimes these cuts can be on the eye brows and if they are done properly the scars will be very thin and hardly noticeable. Usually the scars would be less than one eighth an inch wide and about quarter an inch tall. If the cuts are done by the parent or unskilled person they can leave bigger scars.
In Ethiopia only the Tigrai people do mark their faces with these small straight line incisions side by side on their face. In the past 90 years since the Tigraians lost power to the Amhara people of central Ethiopia, their tradition, language and cultural practices have been attacked and ridiculed. The facial scars of the people of Tigrai have been source of insult and discrimination by the Amhara who tried to destroy the Tigrai identity. Despite the humiliation the practice still continues today in Tigrai, in fact most young people are finding their own cultural identity and embracing it with pride.
Houses in Tigrai are usually built from amazing stone masonry and they are rectangular in shape. Sometimes they can be round but the round and rectangular houses have flat roofs of wood covered with mortar and wide overhanging eaves to protect the walls from rain water. On the outside of the houses they have beautifully built stone steps leading to the roof where the roof is used for many purposes. In some cases the houses could double story buildings the upstairs would be used as a bedroom, leaving room or guest room. Read More about Tigrai house building
A beautiful Tigrai bride wearing a traditional wedding dress. The black coat is called Kabba.
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