Seged

Seged

November; 29th day of eighth lunar month
Seged is a religious festival of unclear origin observed only by Ethiopian Jews known as the Falashas or the Beta Israel. It begins with a procession up a hill to the place where the ritual will be held. The participants wear clean, preferably white, clothes with colored fringe, symbolic of the state of purity in which they have kept themselves by avoiding sexual intercourse and bodily contact with non-Falashas for seven days. The priests, who lead the procession, sing prayers and carry the Orit (the Jewish scriptures in Geez—an ancient local language—written on parchment) and other holy books wrapped in colored cloth. Everyone who climbs the hill carries a stone, which is placed on an already existing circular wall marking the holy area where the Orit will be placed.
The ceremony itself includes a commemoration of the dead, where those who wish to honor their deceased relatives place a seed of grain on the stone wall for each relative and say a special prayer. There are also readings from the Orit and donations of money to the priests. After the service is over, the procession moves back down the hill to the prayerhouse, where food for the communal meal—usually indjära (bread), kay wot (meat stew), and t'alla (beer)—is distributed. The remainder of the day is spent in non-religious festivities, especially singing and dancing to the music of masänqos (one-stringed bowed lutes).
SOURCES:
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 627
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