September: A season of flowering, fruiting and beautifying

In Eritrea every season is celebrated in a way that empowers the community. The traditions and customs associated with the traditional celebrations helps the local community to live cordially. The month of September is highly celebrated by Eritrean society for many reasons. In September plants get bigger each day and they begin to ripe, getting ready for harvest. September is a month of flowering, fruiting and beauty.

The most famous traditional celebrations include Paqumien, Qdus yewhans, Abune anbes and Mesqel. These traditional celebrations are a mix of tradition and religion. The society, particularly young women, perform with great devotion since ancient times. These festivals and celebrations support and fortify the social and cultural roots of the people. They also empower the community, in many ways, to preserve and sustain the centuries old customs and traditions. These celebrations are a gesture of hope for social and communal wellbeing.

The performance of these festivals and celebrations on a regular basis demonstrates the social and cultural competence of the people. Young women have relished a respectable place in celebrating the festivities in September. The celebration of Paqumien and Qdus yewhans, among the traditional celebrations in September, is entirely a privilege of young women. The role of men is minimal; they have no active role rather than accompanying them. Paqumien is a gendered cultural festival which is exclusively entitled to young women. In the celebration of Paqumien, women acclaim to take a significant part in performing rites. When Paqumien approaches, girls make all necessary preparations including buying new clothes, hairdressing, and many other decorative items to be used in a fashionable pattern. The gergelemesqele flower that naturally grows in the field is also used as an ornament to enhance their beauty.

They chant different traditional songs to express the blessing given by nature. They usually say among others “fesese kem may nehase” (its pouring like the rains of August) to express the generous gift of nature. The rain of August is known for its accidental coming and its abundance. The meaning of the song is to signify that the gifts of nature are pouring immeasurably to our satisfaction. The gifts are however not limited to the material aspect of human needs. Beauty, which is needed badly by humankind, is also pouring during this festive week to the women. The dressing style, hairstyle and the traditional lead put on their eyelid gives immense beauty for the girls. They all look like candidates for beauty competitions. The elderly warns their male adults “gual mesqel rieka ayttehaxe” (don’t make engagement by merely seeing women in Mesqel.” Mesqel is a traditional holiday usually celebrated on the second week of September. The proverb infers that you can not identify the natural beauty of girls during that week. All women tried to be as beautiful as a flower.

Traditionally, women wear traditional dresses which is locally produced by sartor and dress their hairs according to their age and marital status. The most common types of hair styles observed among girls during the festivity conducted in September include game, glibich, sgem, and albaso. They put the gergelemesqele flower on their braids whilst town dwelling girls use artificial flower that resembles the gergelemesqele flower in their braided hair.

Written by Simon Weldemichael

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