The Oromo nation is one of the indigenous peoples of east Africa. Throughout long history they have developed their own culture, identity, religious cult and ritual performances. Practicing monotheism (belief in one God), the Oromo people, do not tolerate that one expresses the slight doubt regarding the Orthodoxy of their faith in the unity of God. They very highly protest in such case, that there is and there will always be but only one God, or Waaqa tokko. The Oromo are not fetishists. They believe in Waaqa tokko unique universal creator and master. They see his manifestations in the great forces of nature, without mistaking them for him.
However, comprehensive understanding of the Oromo culture, politics and other living social heritages can be attained through close examination of the Gada system. By the same token, one can fully understand and analyze Irrecha ceremony from the view point of its relations to Gada system and Qaalluu institution.
Irrecha means literally thanks giving, worshipping and praying to the waaqa or the universal creator through cultural practices. Irrecha ritual ceremony contains in itself religious cultural and philosophical world view which admires the miraculous spiritual powers of Waaqa and conjointly relates the living secret of generation. The ever greenness and productivity of plants, the regeneration of life and the replacement of the old by the new, death and resurrection of fruits is likened and related to the wisdom of Waaqa. According to this belief, all is accomplished by the will of Waaqa and is indicative to the life after death religious philosophy.
Historically, it is attested and seems that suck kind of view and philosophy is the perception and understanding of the ancient Cushitic people living along the Nile valley. It seems to have been related to the worship and thanks giving practice of ancient Cushitic people to their God. Hence”…. Agricultural cult of the dying and resurrecting spirit of plant life….” Which is intertwined with the philosophy and belief in Osiris? However, it seems that the Cushitic belief is embodied in the deity for regeneration and well being. In all its forms, Waaqeffannaa if not identical, is similar to the worshipping practices of the ancient people living along the Nile Valley.
Nevertheless the Oromo Waaqeffannaa does not believe in deity. But it is a belief in monotheistic power i.e. Waaqa. This they revere as Waaqa Gurracha. Even though the ancient Cushitic people had common religious back ground it is difficult to conclude that they had identical belief system. Hence this is open for further research. But certainly, it suffices to say that both of them originated from the Nile Valley Cushitic civilization.
This thanks giving culture and pray would be accomplished at different places and time governed by its own system. It is portrayed by its own ritual practices. In this aspect of Waaqeffannaa culture, the Qaalluus (the spiritual leaders) and the Abbaa Malkaas(lineal chiefs of the areas) are at the top hierarchies. In the Qaalluu religio-ethics, the Qaalluus give instructions and directives of the where about and the time of the implementation of the ritual.
Although the Irrecha ritual ceremony is conducted at different places, by and large it usually takes place at two major areas.
1. Irrecha Tulluu (Irrecha that is performed at the top of the mountains) during dry season (bona) according to the Oromo Culture.
2. Irrecha Malkaa (Irrecha that is performed along the river bank). In September or at the beginning of Birraa.
These ritual ceremonies are conduted in the following manners:
It is the ritual ceremony conducted on the top of the mountain. It is performed at the beginning of the spring season usually in the month of March. The last three months were sunny, when both men and cattle suffer from drought (shortage of water and grasses). So it is the time when the Oromo living in the vicinity are gathered to pray to their Waaqa/creator/ to give them rain. This particular solitary place is characterized by moisture conducive for praying. This ritual ceremonial practice is said to have closely related to the worship practiced by ancient settlers of peoples of the Nile Valley.
2. Irrecha Malkaa(Irrecha long the river bank)
This Irrecha practice takes place immediately after the end of rainy season. It is celebrated in the mid of September (Fulbaana) when the darkness of rainy season with its foggy days passes and leaves place for bright season (Birraa). Such ritual ceremony is accomplished not only along the bank of river, but also around the lakes and its vicinities. This Irrecha holiday is sometimes known as Ayyaana Birraa( the Birraa holiday). It is the time when relatives, families and clans cut apart by rivers and flood are able to meet. Still others call it Xaddacha Saaquu- traditional court openings season. Because, in the past rainy season, the judges could not sit in the court to see the cases. By these time particularly, Mountains and meadows covered with flowers and crops whose colors are so attractive and lavish to the farmers and pastoralist would be considered as the herald of the month of hope and prosperity. It is also a thanks giving month for their Waaqa and it is taken as the annually recurred culture or holiday.
As water is the source of life, admiring creator and its creation, thanking God for the offeris what is performed being gathered around the vicinity. So the Oromo culture and religion (Waaqeffannaa) from which Irrecha is part has a concept that revolves around rain, peace and fertility.
Those Oromo who live on the highland and semi highland areas, start taking their cattle to Hora at this geographical and climatically juncture. So it is the first and a new start in their work and routine lives. The historical and cultural site of Hora Arsadi where the celebration ceremony is take place.
Found adjacent to Bishoftu town not far from Oda Nabe- one of the Oromo religious, political and historical centers of the ancient time. Hora Arsadi is named after the man called Arsadi who is said to have belonged to the liban lineage.
In the Irrecha ritual ceremony, yhe Abbaa Malkaas and the Abbaa Gadaas have vital participating communities carrying bunch of lovely grasses and flowers in their hands-praise, bless and pray to Waaqa. Soaking that bunches of flowers and grasses after thanks giving song is over, they lay there it over. Then after the melody Maareyoo! Maareyoo…! Song by participant women decorated by Caaccuu (beads) cultural suits and Siiqqee (Cultural slender stick) men holding Harooressa(male stick) in their hands sing “Irrechoo yaa irrecha malkaa roobaafi nagaa…” after this praying, all of them return to their villages accompanying Abbaa Malkaa and their clan leaders.
Children with peer groups sing a seasonal and love song. It is the season in which young people select their girl mates, give and receive/exchange/ gifts with their friends. It is the season when lovers express their best wishes to one another through cultural sons.
Nevertheless the Oromo Waaqeffannaa and the annually conducted Irrecha ritual and cultural practice ceremony are characterized by praising the creator holding its creation (fresh grass…) in hands. Thus, it is usually said “Uumamaan uumaa raajjeeffanna”. This literally means we pray and admire the creator having creations in hands. This is accomplished by holding in hands lovely grasses and flowers and admiring good gifts that God has bestowed them. Indeed, this is what is annually done on Irrecha cultural ceremony at Hora Arsadi.