Ashenda 2014!

The girls will find you…it’s only a matter of time.  Every spring groups of girls get together and beautify themselves with new dresses, fancy hairdos, and jewelry.  Then they take to the streets with a hand drum for three crazy days looking for men.  They form a big group around the men and dance and sing in order to solicit donations from the guy.  It’s kind of like Halloween Trick-or-Treating, but they won’t let you leave without paying.  It’s fine as long as you are not in a hurry and have lots of small bills to give out.  But still, the drum beats echoing around Abi Adi instills a bit of fear in all of us.  I’ll peek around the next corner to make sure all is clear before walking down a street.

Ashenda is a beautiful holiday full of dancing, drinking, eating, and watching the roaming groups of beautiful women in the streets.  For more history and a better explanation of the holiday check out my blog entry from last year.  But, last year I didn’t bring out my big camera.  This year I did.  Here are some photos:

Ashenda dancers take to the streets for the main event on the first day of Ashenda in Abi Adi

Ashenda dancers take to the streets for the main event on the first day of Ashenda in Abi Adi

Dancing in Ashenda

Dancing in Ashenda

Hair is a big deal during Ashenda.  This is the traditional way to wear it.

Hair is a big deal during Ashenda. This is the traditional way to wear it.

Many women have a new Ashenda dress made every year

Many women have a new Ashenda dress made every year

More awesome hair

More awesome hair

Dancing in Abi Adi

Dancing in Abi Adi

Girls of all ages participate.  This is one of our students.

Girls of all ages participate. This is one of our students.

My sitemate Merre, back row on the left, dressed up this year and is posing here with some of her students

My sitemate Merre, back row on the left, dressed up this year and is posing here with some of her students

One of my friend's daughter was all dressed up

One of my friend’s daughter was all dressed up

There was a bit of choreographed dancing during the main program on the first day of Ashenda

There was a bit of choreographed dancing during the main program on the first day of Ashenda

There was a bit of choreographed dancing during the main program on the first day of Ashenda

There was a bit of choreographed dancing during the main program on the first day of Ashenda

The grass skirt, called the Ashenda, is often worn

The grass skirt, called the Ashenda, is often worn by women

Some boys get to participate as musicians, stick bangers, or do other "support" roles.

Some boys get to participate as musicians, stick-bangers, or do other “support” roles.

A classic Tembien outfit for Ashenda

A classic Tembien outfit for Ashenda

They use hand drums to lay down the beat that they sing and dance to

They use hand drums to lay down the beat that they sing and dance to

These wrestlers provided a bit of comic relief for the crowd

These wrestlers provided a bit of comic relief for the crowd

More drumming

More drumming

Those are the classic Ashenda colors on her scarf

Those are the classic Ashenda colors on her scarf

They hoist a little girl on top of the tallest adult dancer.  I'm not sure what this means...?

They hoist a little girl on top of the tallest adult dancer. I’m not sure what this means…?

We went to a mes (honeywine) house after the big program.  Girls came in to perform.  Here I am dancing Awers, the traditional Ashenda dance, with one of them.

We went to a mes (honeywine) house after the big program. Girls came in to perform. Here I am dancing Awers, the traditional Ashenda dance, with one of them.

Merre, center, poses with two new friends.  This dress pattern was the unofficial pattern this year; all the cool kids had it.

Merre, center, poses with two new friends. This dress pattern was the unofficial pattern this year; all the cool kids had it.

More girls dancing for us at a bar in Abi Adi

More girls dancing for us at a bar in Abi Adi

More girls dancing and singing for us at a bar in Abi Adi

More girls dancing and singing for us at a bar in Abi Adi

More girls dancing and singing for us at a bar in Abi Adi

More girls dancing and singing for us at a bar in Abi Adi

This is one of the street groups that roam the streets for 2 days looking for guys

This is one of the street groups that roam the streets for 2 days looking for guys.  Notice how they are queued up along the road, just waiting for me.  Good thing I had lots of small bills!

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About copelaf

photographer, writer, engineer, eater, traveler, and - occasionally - a thinker.
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5 Responses to Ashenda 2014!

  1. Christine says:

    These are stunning photos!

  2. gechgirma says:

    Great job Forrest. I love all the pictures.

  3. saralaskowski says:

    Wow, beautiful photos! I absolutely love the traditional hair style with the half braiding, half natural. The women are stunningly gorgeous. In Guinea it is very taboo to have natural hair — it all must be braided! Seems like it was quite a festive day. Thanks for sharing

  4. Pingback: Two Years, Endless Challenges, Boundless Growth | Tales From The Big Country

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