Festivals to promoting cultural tourism industry

Ethiopia is a multiethnic and a multicultural country rich with its religious and cultural heritages.

Just to mention but a few, Meskel and Epiphany festivals, Fiche Chambalala- the New Year festival of the Sidama people- and Shewal Eid, the religious and cultural festival of the Harari people as well as the Gadda System which is an indigenous democratic system of governance of the Oromo people, are among the religious and cultural festivals celebrated colorfully in a manner keeping with the identity, value system.

This diversity is reflected in various ways including in the form of music, rituals, festivals, cuisines and the like events and lived experiences of the community.

Merely in this month of April, two cultural and religious festivals- the Fiche Chamballala and the Shewal Eid festivals- were celebrated warmly and colorfully in Sidama and Harari states respectively by bringing together a huge number of people from at home and abroad.

During the festivals held at both places, the significance of such religious and cultural festivals in advancing the tourism industry was highlighted.

Speaking at the Shewal Eid festival marked recently, Minister of Tourism, Nassise Chali said that Ethiopia is home to diverse cultural, historical and natural tourism heritages that have a potential to allure and captivate the interests of visitors across the world. The availability of these age-old tangible and intangible heritages all the way through the country testifies that Ethiopia is a symbol of diversity and multiculturalism and a land with breathtaking and mesmerizing cultures.

The old city of Harar is a unique example of this, as it holds unique tangible and intangible historical, cultural and religious heritages. Being the owner of an ancient civilization and a center of religion, Harar is a living city where the traditional features and untapped cultures that have been passed down from generation to generation are reflected, she added.

According to her, Shewal Eid is deeply rooted in Harari culture and holds immense historical and religious significance. As the festival marks the end of the fasting period of Ramadan and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy, it brings a sense of togetherness and unity. Tourists, who are seeking to have a real cultural experience, have to attend the Shewal Eid festival as it allows them to witness and have a firsthand experience about the traditional, cultural and religious values of the Harari people. This immersion in Ethiopian culture enhances the overall tourism experience and promotes cultural exchange.

“We believe that the celebration is attracting a significant number of domestic and international tourists to Ethiopia. Visitors are captivated by the vibrant atmosphere, colorful processions, traditional music and dance performances associated with the festival. As a result, there was a surge in tourist arrivals during the Shewal Eid period, benefiting the tourism industry and supporting local businesses such as hotels, restaurants, and handicraft vendors.”

She also underscored the need to keep on promoting the festival through various platforms because the positive portrayal of the festival in media coverage and travel publications enhances Ethiopia’s reputation as a culturally significant and tourist-friendly country. This positive destination image in turn attracts more visitors to the country and leads to sustained growth in tourism in the end.

Culture and Sport Minister Kejela Merdasa also said that Harari’s art works have crossed borders and are the heritage of the people of the world.

The Minister stated that Harar and its respective people are symbols of peace and love besides their rich historical and cultural heritages which are inscribed by UNESCO as both tangible and intangible heritages of the World.

Addressing the gatherings President of the State of Harari, Ordin Bedri, conveyed his congratulatory message to the Ethiopian people, noting that the registration of the Shewal Eid festival as an intangible cultural heritage is a great success.

The influx of tourists during the Shewal Eid celebration is contributing to the local economy in various ways, the State is working to promote the tourism sector in a more organized fashion. Tourists spend money on accommodation, transportation, food, souvenirs, and other goods and services, generating income for local communities. This increased economic activity helps create employment opportunities, improve infrastructure, and boost the overall socio-economic development of the State.

Shewal Eid is serving as a platform to promote cultural tourism in Ethiopia. Cultural and religious festivals provide opportunity for tourists to engage with Ethiopian traditions, customs and religious practices. This exposure not only enriches travel experiences but also encourages exploring other cultural attractions and heritage sites in the country. Consequently, Shewal Eid acts as a catalyst for promoting broader cultural tourism initiatives in Ethiopia.

He finally noted that the celebration of Shewal Eid showcases Ethiopia’s rich cultural diversity and highlights the country as a vibrant and welcoming tourist destination.

Shewal Eid commemorates the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and holds immense significance for the Harari people. It is a festival that shows the rich history, culture and tradition of the community.

One of the most captivating aspects of Shewal Eid is the “Chibal,” a vibrant procession that winds its way through the city’s narrow alleys. Men, women, and children dressed in colorful garments adorned with intricate embroidery and gleaming jewelry, parade through the streets, accompanied by rhythmic drumming and chanting. The air is filled with an infectious energy as celebrants exchange greetings and best wishes.

Shewal Eid is more than just a religious celebration; it is a powerful symbol of Harari identity and history. The festival reinforces social bonds within the community and serves as a reminder of the Harari people’s rich cultural heritage. UNESCO’s recognition of Shewal Eid as intangible cultural heritage underscores the importance of preserving these traditions for future generations.

The Shewal Eid celebrations offer a glimpse into the enduring spirit of the Harari people. By continuing to celebrate their traditions, the Harari community ensures that their unique cultural heritage continues to thrive for years to come.

It is to be recalled that the Shewal Eid festival will be celebrated for the following three days in different cultural activities at Harar city.



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