The Irecha rite probably originated among the Nile-bound Kushitic people thousands of years ago and 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 the top of mountains.
The ceremony centers on sacreed trees, which are dotted around the area, in particular around a specific ancient fig tree, where most of the faithful gather. 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 piligrimage may vary. Our best estimate is that it takes place on the first Sunday after Meskel, the “Finding of the True Cross”, and hence around late September/ early October.
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