The Ashenda Festival of Ethiopia

The Ashenda Festival of Ethiopia


Ashenda is one of the very beautiful and unique traditions I’ve come across.

Usually celebrated in August by mostly young girls and women of the Tigrai region of Ethiopia, every young woman eargerly waits for this event.

Ashenda is the name of some tall grasses grown in the Tigraian Region which is Ethiopia’s northernmost among the nine of the African country.

Tigrai girls and young women make their skirts from the Ashenda grass ready for the festival which attracts tourists from all parts of the world.

In addition to this, the young girls dress in their tilfi, a dress made of cotton and decorated with amazing embroidery from neck to toe with an array of jewelry to match.

During the Ashenda festival, the girls gather in the village square and form smaller groups who go from house to house singing and playing their drums as they dance to the admiration of all. It is customary for people to part with small sums of money, food and drinks. Some give the dancing queens some other items that might be of use to them.

Tagrai Girls Wearing The Ashenda Skirts

This continues for the whole day as the girls occasionally return to the village square to perform.

Ashenda festival lasts for up to a week or more. The event then rounds up at the village square or city center where all the village and city participants come out to watch.

Ethiopian boys take part mostly as spectators and not active players as the Ashenda is strictly an only girls’ affair.


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