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Timket (Epiphany) ጥምቀት/ኤጲፋንያ

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on January 19, 2011


Timket (Epiphany) is one of the greatest festivals in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church calendar. It commemorates Christ’s Baptism by Saint John in the Jordan River.

Timket is celebrated in Ethiopia on January/ ጥር 11 Ethiopian calendar (January 19 Gregorian calendar), two weeks after Ledet/ልደት (Ethiopian Christmas), beginning on the Eve of Timket with colourful processions and ceremonies ending on the January 12 (January 20 Gregorian calendar).

According to the Ethiopian epic Kebra Negast, the Ark of the Covenant was abducted from Jerusalem to Ethiopia during the first millennium BC. Since then, it has become the most sacred element of the Ethiopian orthodox church. Early afternoon in the Timket Eve, the replicas of the Ark, covered by silks, are carried solemnly by priests from each church to the nearby body of water. Accompanying the procession are tens of thousands of church members and believers, chanting, dancing, drum-beating, horn-blowing, prayer-stick-waving and sistra (a simple musical instrument)- rattling. All in all, it resembles the scene described in the Old Testament.

As evening falls, the priests and the pious believers participate in overnight vigil around the Arks until dawn. Then huge crowds gather around the water. After the chief priest blesses the water, the celebration reaches its climax. Many jump into the water, the rest are eager to get a splash. After the religious vows are renewed, some of the Arks are paraded back with the same celebrating fashion.

The festival does not end until the third day, dedicated to the Archangel Mikael. With parade no less magnificent than the previous two days, the rest of the Arks are carried back to their respective churches.

In Timket, the traditional drinks Tella, Qerarri and Tej are brewed, special bread is baked called “Himbash” (in Tigrigna) “Ambasha” (in Amharic), and sheep are slaughtered to mark the three-day celebration.


 


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