Fichee Chambalaalla

Fichee-Chambalalla is a New Year festival celebrated among the Sidama people, who now have their own regional state.

Fichee Chambalaalla

According to the oral tradition, Fichee commemorates a Sidama woman who visited her parents and relatives once a year after her marriage, bringing a meal prepared from false banana, milk and butter, which was shared with neighbors. Fichee has since become a unifying symbol of the Sidama people.

Each year, astrologers determine the correct date for the festival, which is then announced to the clans. In 2021 the Chambalala festival will be celebrated from around 21-23 June. Communal events take place throughout the festival, including traditional songs and dances. All the Sidama participate, irrespective of age, gender and social status.

On the first day, children go from house to house to greet their neighbors. During the festival, clan leaders advise the Sidama people to work hard, respect and support the elders, and abstain from cutting down indigenous trees, begging, indolence, false testimony and theft.

The festival therefore enhances equity, good governance, social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and integration among Sidama clans and the diverse ethnic groups in Ethiopia. Parents transmit the tradition to their children orally and through participation in events during the celebration. Women in particular, transfer knowledge and skills associated with hairdressing and preparation of meals to their daughters and other girls in their respective villages.

Fichee – Chambalaalla was registered at UNESCO as an intangible world heritage in November 2015.

There are sequences of events that are performed throughout the Feeche Sidama’s New Year celebration. The most vibrant once are performed on the day of Feche (the New Year) and the day after the holiday – Chamballa festivity.

For this festival we will travel to Hawassa for a 2 night stay. Hawassa is a vibrant Rift Valley town, set on Lake Hawassa, one of Ethiopia’s most beautiful lakes, with colobus and vervet monkeys along the lake shores, and abundant and varied bird life. We can integrate this festival into a longer tour, whether history and culture, a coffee tour, visits to the Omo, bird watching, trekking and other activities.