This ethnographic article explores the changes and continuities of indigenous Qoollee Deejjoo ritual practice, and its role in forest resource management among Kafecho peoples. The Kafecho people, who live in Southwestern Ethiopia have enormous indigenous intangible ritual practices which have never been well investigated and recognized clearly. This study focuses on Qoollee deejjoo ritual practice in Gimbo woreda. The above study site is selected as the main study area based on the availability of indigenous ritual practice, and the researcher’s personal experience. The researcher employed qualitative methods of data collection and analysis techniques. The major findings of the research pointed that Qoollee Deejjoo is a thanksgiving sacrifice ceremony to forest spirit (Qoolloo). This research also shows that the ritual ceremony performed under forested landscape is symbolic reminder of the worshipers and their survival, which depends on the forest. Hence, the ritual practice recognizes and honors the ethics and taboos of forested landscape for what it is. The sacrifice ceremony is exclusive. In addition, it plays a significant role in maintaining social coexistences, conflict settlement among its adherents. Based on the research finding there are changes in the ritual practice. These changes include reduction in the number of participants, reduction in the number of the ritual places, clearance of the sacred ritual forest for other purpose and reluctant towards the norms, taboos and values of the ritual practice. Some of the agents for these changes are change in the belief system due to currently spreading evangelical Protestant missionaries, cultural diffusion due to ‘Westernization’ narratives, the state led intervention and its contradictions with local socio-cultural dynamics, and disempowerment of local cultural practices. Finally, though there is big pressure and discouragement from internal and external dynamics against the practice of Qoollee Deejjoo, it is still representing the religious belief and cultural identity of its adherents in the study area.
Key words: Qoolloo, Qoollee Deejjoo, ritual practice, indigenous institution, sacred forest.
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