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Shuwalid Festival inscribed as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

Addis Ababa, December 6, 2023 (FBC) – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) inscribed Shuwalid Festival, an annual three-day festival celebrated by the Harari people of Ethiopia, as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The festival’s inscription as a living intangible cultural heritage was approved during the eighteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, being held in Botswana from December 4 to 9, 2023.

In that regard, Harar city becomes the first city in Ethiopia to be home to two UNESCO heritages: the historic Jugol and Shuwalid festival.

Shuwalid festival marks the end of six days of fasting to compensate omissions during Ramadan. The Harari people celebrate Shuwalid at the shrines of Aw Shulum Ahmed and Aw Akebara, found at the main entrance gates of the walled city of Harar.

The festival starts with supplications and spiritual songs, followed by the reading of scriptures, music and dance. The celebration is concluded with words of blessing. The occasion unites community members of all ages and genders and serves as a platform for community elders to share their knowledge and experiences and to give blessings to the next generations, as well as for youth to learn about cultural values, norms and traditions. Shuwalid is transmitted within families and by participating in the celebration, as well as through formal educational and safeguarding measures in the sites where the festival takes place. The media and relevant government institutions also support the activities. A platform for the transmission of performing arts, oral traditions, traditional dress and other cultural elements, Shuwalid promotes social cohesion and a sense of identity. It also contributes to cultural exchange and supports the local community and artisans.

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