The Irreecha celebration will be held today in Addis Ababa. According to reports, about three million people are expected to attend the festivity.

Irreecha is a thanksgiving festival to the creator “Waaqaa”. Its followers are known as Waaqeffataa. It is a native religion found in the regions of Oromia. It is believed that the native religion constitutes about 3% of the population of Oromia.

Followers of Waaqaa celebrate Irreecha and thank their God for his deliverance from the arduous season of winter to that of the delightful season of summer. Irreecha festivity is celebrated in the sacred lake of Hora, in Bishoftu, Oromia.

Concerning the celebration today, there are many conflicting stories. On one side, Irreecha is being seen as a public festivity to be celebrated by all. As Prime Minister Abiy had said, “Irreecha is a diverse stage in which different religions, age groups and beliefs are united.” Whereas, others say that Irreecha is the religious practice and should be celebrated as such.

This year’s celebration has also caused some consternation among the political and social circles. Some activists believe that the Oromo Democratic Party (ODP) led by the  government, chose this year’s festival, to be held in Addis Ababa, to highlight its claim on the contentious ownership of Addis Ababa. “It is a politicized Irreecha, and a show of force by [ODP],” wrote Eskindir Nega, a journalist and an activist speaking on the ownership of Addis Ababa.

On the other side, the Oromia Culture and Tourism Bureau has stated the Irreecha celebration in Addis Ababa will proceed this year after 150 years of interruption. “This year will be unique because the event will be celebrated by all ethnic groups, religions, and people with different backgrounds in Addis Ababa,” the bureau added.

Aside all controversies and political debates, the prime minister has invited the nation, to use the Irreecha festival for the common good; to strengthen our brotherhood and to build a united Ethiopia.

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