Ashenda festival is a female cultural and traditional festival unique to the Tigray and Amhara regional state in Northern Ethiopia


Ashenda is the name for a tall grass that the girls usually make into a skirt and wear around their waist as a decoration.

The festival usually takes place between August and September of every year to mark the end of a fasting called “filseta” .

The young women and girls who always eagerly expect the start of the festival dress in their best traditional dresses called Tilfi. The Tilfi is made from cotton and decorated with amazing embroidery from the neck to toe at the front of the dress while the girls are also adorned with beautiful jewelry.

The all female celebrants will then gather at a designated center before spliting into smaller groups moving from house to house while singing, playing drums and dancing to the admiration of the people. It is customary for people to give them money, food and drinks and other items as a token of appreciation.

On the final day of the celebrations all the girls come together at the city centre singing and dancing until sun down with the young boys joining in the celebrations.

Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde joined other celebrants to add colour to the event and rallyed efforts in her speech at ensuring that the festival attains a cultural heritage status under the United Nations Education, Cultural and Scientific Organization, UNESCO classification –

“Just like Meskel, Fichee-Chambalaalla and Gada system, I believe that Ashenda will be registered as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO,”