Ethiopian Epiphany annual Timkat festival : Magical celebration

Jesus Christ's burial slab uncovered for the first time

The festival of Timket (Epiphany) falls on January 19 every year. It is the holiday that commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. The celebration of Timket starts on the eve of the main festival.  The eve is known as ’Ketera’ and taken from the Amharic word ‘ketere’ meaning to  make a dam; it is usual to make a dam in some places where there is not enough river water for the celebration of Timket.

On the afternoon of Ketera the tabots (Holy Arks) from each of the churches are taken to an appointed place where there is water. Escorted by the congregation with a great ceremony, each tabot is carried overhead by a high priest. It is taken to spend the night there, an activity that helps in performing the timkat ceremony, usually done early in the morning to commemorate the time Jesus Christ was baptized. The ceremony extends throughout the night and the next day early in the morning the Timkat celebration starts.

Image result for Ketera the tabots (Holy Arks
Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

The ceremony begins with the pre-sun rise rituals which include the Kidane (Morning Prayer) and the Kidasie (the divine clergy). These rituals are followed by the blessing and sprinkling of the blessed water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ’s baptism.

In Addis Ababa, Jan Meda is the ideal place of witnessing the colorful celebration of Timket. In Lalibela, it is equally celebrated like that of Christmas with relatively less crowd-situations of the flocking pilgrims.  Traditionally, Timket was known as an important occasion for young adults to choose potential brides.

Epiphany is thus a magical celebration, full of deep symbolic values and Ethiopia is the ultimate place to experience them all.

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