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May 2011
Celebrating Eritrea's
20th Independence Day
 
Congratulations Eritrea
Eritrea - May 24 2009 - 18th Independence Day
20th Independence Day
 

 

Keren Eritrea May 29 2011

 

The Festival of Mariam Dearit is a must if you are visiting Eritrea in May. The Festival is the most important local event for Keren and its surroundings.

Thousands of visitors from all parts of Eritrea come together on this day to pray, to worship the holy Mary, and to enjoy with a picnic, music and dance. As always, I am the guest of various families, offering me a seat, food, and drinks.

The Mariam Dearit shrine is regarded a holy place, and a source of fertility. During the year the statue of the black Madonna is in a very small shrine in a hollow 500 year old baobab tree.

Every year on May 29 the statue is carried around in a procession around the tree. The prayers start from the evening of May 28 and last all night.

After a small breakfast I leave the house of Afworki and Hansu at 7:00 to make sure I am at the Mariam Dearit compound around 8:00 AM, well in time for the more spectacular scenes (from a tourists perspective).

The festival compound is easy to find, since 95% of the people on the streets are walking in one direction: the festival area. Early in the morning the 4 - 5 kilometers walk is a pleasant one, as it is still cool in Keren.

The monotonous prayers of the priest are answered by the thousands of believers gathered around the holy tree, or have secured a nice spot for their picnic under one of the trees.

Around 9:00 the procession starts. The police is keeping an eye on the public. But it is a peaceful and friendly eyes only. Everyone is supposed to move back some steps. I am invited to come forward. A nice gentleman even is giving up his place in the front, so I am in a perfect position to make pictures of the delegates of various religious organizations, walking three times around the tree.

When the procession is over I join the police, sharing my chewing gum with them. I brought a lot of it to suppress the thirst.

I search the area for people I know from previous visits. More than once I am invited to join a picnic, and eat and drink with an Eritrean family.

 

Boy selling atar (chickpeas) - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Boy selling atar (chickpeas) - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Small scale trade - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Small scale trade - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

People gathered around the
      holy tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

People gathered around the holy tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Temporary restaurant - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Temporary restaurant - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

People praying in front of the Madonna - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

People praying in front of the Madonna - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Priest in the festival procession - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Priest in the festival procession - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Procession around the baobab tree - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Eritrean family - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Eritrean family - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Traditional wardrobe - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Traditional wardrobe - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Picknic with an Eritrea family - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Picknic with an Eritrea family - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Women singing and dancing - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Women singing and dancing - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Women singing and dancing - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Women singing and dancing - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Women singing and dancing - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Women singing and dancing - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

"Salena" (picture me) - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

"Salena" (picture me) - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Serving Suwa as a gift to all - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Serving Suwa as a gift to all - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Bereket, Hansu, and Mebrat - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

Bereket, Hansu, and Mebrat - Mariam Dearit Keren Eritrea.

 

 
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