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Celebrations of the Nara and Kunama Ethnic Groups(Part I)

In almost every indigenous society, cultural holidays are related to religious beliefs, and religious beliefs are intertwined with the social values of a society. As a result, cultural holidays are celebrated with great enthusiasm, and are passed from generation to generations.

Even though the importance of holidays and celebrations in a given society cannot be overstated, many celebrations have long disappeared.

In light of the above fact, this article tries to shed some light to the cultural holidays of the Nara and Kunama ethnic groups based on a research done 30 years ago.

In both the Nara and Kunama ethnic groups the prominent cultural holidays are KINA-FARDA and MASHKELE.  Kina-Farda is a holiday celebrated to announce the beginning of the harvest season and has no specific date on which the celebrations are held. The Nara celebrate this holiday the same day and time in all villages, where as in the Kunama ethnic group all villages celebrate Kina-Farda on a date of their choice.

In celebrating Kina-Farda, elders that would coordinate the celebrations are first elected. And those individuals are called Farda-Mana in the Nara and Logo-Nama, which is translated to lord of the land.

The Nara celebrates Kina-Farda with so much reverence that they hold that every member of the society should be present in their village. At the commencement of the celebrations, males of the society gather at a place in the village and slaughter cattle. The head of the cattle should face to east during slaughtering; the animal should be slaughtered on top of a stone. Most of the time, the place of slaughtering, Adaaga as it is called,  is the place that is believed to be  their ancestors  place of first settlement of the man selected to be the year’s land of lord, Logo-Nama. During this celebration the Nara slaughter medium sized black ox where as the Kunama slaughter a red skinned goat and a white sheep. During the slaughtering of the animals the people pray for good production to their god, A’na. After the ceremony, the participants eat the meat of the animals and go to their daily activities.

In the Nara, the man selected as the lord of the land will have assistance in coordinating Kina-Farda from elder sons of four families selected by the society. Those four individuals will have more meat from the slaughtered animal and hide of the slaughtered animal. In this day, milk, butter is prepared, and other animals are slaughtered for the respect of the past lords of the land, Logo-Namas.

During the Holidays of Kina-Farda, dancing and singing is not allowed; weddings are also disallowed due to the society’s belief that such events may hinder the harvest season, and priority should be given to the farming, source of living of the society.

Except for few differences, the celebrations in both ethnic groups are almost the same.

To be continued….

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