What’s smoking Addis?

ህዳር ሲታጠን/ዳግም ታምሩ

Growing up as an Ethiopian, we all get to grow through all the diverse beliefs from all cultures and religions, accustomed in a way they reflect the people’s way of living which descended from the very founding pedigrees, the forebears who’ve set the customs we all walk through till this day. Cropping out the bad habits, watering those nurturing our persona into a better being, here we stand celebrating days we received from the hands of the grander and wiser ones.

Today November 21, or as it’s well-known for “Hidar Michael” , Hidar 12th, in Ethiopian calendar, is where people celebrate the annual day of the Arch Angel Michael. What makes it different is that people burn all the trash on this very day. I have always found beliefs fascinating, and so I asked some people what this burning of the trash in this particular day was all about?

“Well from where I grew up, we burn the trash as a symbol of burning all the bad of the year that has been tagging along from the summer. When we burn the trash, we believe that all the sickness like the flu and also that affects the animals burns away as well, and also for a better year of safe harvesting.”

“I was told a long time ago, there was an air born disease outbreak, a lot of people and animals died out of it. Later on the people gathered all the trash out and burned it to clean out the condition, and priests from the churches go around villages and farms every time of that season doing religious rituals while the rest of the people burn trashes on this very day.” The girl I asked told me.

This made me think of all the techniques the modern day psychologists and life gurus use. Not technically but in a way. Where they tell you to write all the negative thoughts holding you back on a piece of paper and to tear it down to pieces to burn it to ashes later on. As a symbol of letting go off all the bad that has been tagging along from whatever day you were feeling down.

So walking through the smoke, and seeing how people really bind to their beliefs, and how much of it pays off or how much of it actually comes true is not really substandard or of little worth. Those people, as they burn all the trash to ashes, are desperately fervent or better yet believing that all the bad would be driven out from the country. The country well all live in. The year we all look forward to. Some mock them, some don’t really care, some don’t notice at all, but none of that matters to the people setting the fire to the bad that has been holding all the fellow beings back. I was among those who didn’t really care as I didn’t believe in any of it till I overheard this old guy muttering before the burning trash, “let this be a year of good news, let all the disease burn away, let it be a new beginning where the harvest goes well, a healthy year ahead…” It didn’t matter then whatever he believed in, it didn’t matter whichever way he chose to show it, it was an act of a heartfelt and untainted keenness on behalf of all of us. And whether I still believe it would go down that script or not, I still think beliefs are just means of reaching out and looking out.

So if you are wondering why the city is all smoked up today, know that some people out there are metaphorically burning the bad away from you so you could have a healthy and decent year ahead. Well the rest of the year.

Have a good, healthy and free week, month and year ahead!

Burning bridges so the bad could no longer cross the other side of the year!


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