Bull Jumping Ceremony

Saturday, December 20, 2014
Dimeka, Ethiopia
Thirty minutes out of town we eventually found the location where the bull jumping ceremony was being held. It took several goes speaking with the locals as to where to turn off the side road and then drive cross country towards this place. Drove as far as we could then shanks pony took over. In the distance the sound of the horn could be heard. We knew that we were on the right track.

We were the second group of only about a dozen faranjis / foreigners who witnessed this coming of age ceremony.

Briefly the running order was:
- the arrival of the boy mother's family
- the painting on the male body of boy’s supporters
- arrival by the boy father’s family
- given a new name and blessings
- then with the sun setting low on the horizon it was the final act for the day with the running over the top of the bulls. If he didn't fall off, he was successful and the transition into manhood was complete. The naked boy successfully completed this 4 times.

Throughout this whole time the slightly intoxicated female relatives whom seem to be in trance at times were whipped by the males who were friends of the boy who have already done the bull jumping. The women were in fact taunting the men to whip them. This resulting in the bleeding gashes and honorific scars. Significance of the whipping of the females is for them to show their love and support to boy who is doing the rights of passage.

Celebrations would continue for several days with much feasting and many goats killed.

Billy the goat who was walking around the market today ended up on our dinner plate. That with beetroot, potato and aubergine was dinner.

Yes, today is going to be a memorable day. I won't try and judge the whipping of the females but have to accept that this is their custom.

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2022-08-18