WIRSHATO: THE GOURD-SMASHING CEREMONY

Author : Abdulmuheimen Abdulnassir

Year : 2010

ABSTRACT On Ashura, the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, Hararis celebrate
Wirshato, a gourd-smashing ceremony that commemorates the prohibition of alcohol indicated
by the Prophet Muhammad. During the ceremony, young boys run around the city holding
sticks and singing the Wirshato song; when they enter the house compounds, they are given
traditional gourds, habitually employed to contain liquids. The boys hence smash the gourd
with their sticks and make toys out of the broken pieces, to symbolize the benefi ts that derive
by breaking bad habits. Other members of the community take part in the festivities by donating
gourds and by feasting on porridge to usher in abundance for the coming year. This brief
paper will show how the activities surrounding the Wirshato ceremony in Harar are concerned
with the concept of renewal and are derived from Islamic and customary sources.

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