Timket: An Extraordinary Festivity to Attend once in a Lifetime

18 Jan 2017
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  ( Ambaye Weretaw, ENA )

Traditionally Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany) is celebrated on 20th January every year with an exception in the leap year. The festival is prominent for its commemoration of baptism ritual of Christ at the River Jordan.

The multicolored festivity starts with Ketera on the 19th of January at around 2 pm local time by passing the night at the field with singing and praying as the eve of the traditional Ethiopian Epiphany followed by the main ceremony with the priest solemnly carrying the Tabot (the Ark of the Covenant) which respectfully wrapped in rich silk cloth to the nearby stream at around 2am on 20th January.

During the time of Timket, the Ark of the Covenant is escorted back and forth from their respective Orthodox churches to open fields usually accompanied by teachings of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church to the faithful. Attended by priests, deacons and the faithful who are beautifully dressed in religious attires, the Tabots are escorted back through colorful processions that feature religious songs, dances glorifying the festivity. Thereafter the Holy Ark is carried back to its host church amidst lots of chanting, music and dancing with a breathtaking atmosphere.
Since the festival is so spectacular for tourists, many foreigners join the leisurely procession and huge crowd to enjoy the colorful church services along the streets and in the outdoors where the Tabots are passing.

Tourists’ tribute to Timket Festival

Timiket celebration shows a mixture of immense religious and cultural festivity in the land of Ethiopia, a multicultural nation which attracts tourists from every corner of the world.

A Slovenian journalist who was among the tourists, who attended the eve of Timket (Ketera), in 2015, here in the capital said the festival is “absolutely extraordinary” and everyone is singing, dancing. It creates a texture of unity in diversity. “In Europe we don’t have celebrations like this. I think in the past we had it; but all the authentic expressions of culture got lost through time, through globalization, through capitalization and development”, she explained.  

Panos, a tourist from Greece who attended the Ethiopian Epiphany for the second time said he came to the festival because the kind and friendly people of Ethiopia as well as the landscape attracted him.“This is a very impressive festival and I haven’t seen such a big epiphany celebration in any other country”.

“I can only call upon foreigners living in other countries to come here because this is something very special for Ethiopia and which is something I will not forget when I leave Ethiopia after my stay”, Benjamin Hanna from Germany pointed out after his amazing personal experience.    

Barbara Kyne from Britain also said “I will tell everybody how wonderful Ethiopia is and everyone should come and enjoy this unique festival with unique people”.

“I have attended similar events in Europe and African countries. It is a special holyday for me. Look the hymen, the dressing style how much it inspired. You have amazing festival,” said Frangois Mennerat, a tourist from France attending the festival for the first time (2016).

“I will deliver a message to my fellow friends and citizens of our country to attend this event,” Mennerat assured.
Another tourist named Paula Garcia from Spain said “Timket” is the greatest Ethiopian festival of the year which reflects the nation’s ample spiritual and traditional holiday that strengthens the amity and cooperation."I am surprised with the people. They respect foreign visitors and newcomers. I think the festival brings together in convergence the spiritual and cultural events of Timket holyday," she said expressing her full praise for the friendly welcoming.
A tourist from Belgium also stated that the ceremony is a unique cultural heritage, being the home of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. “The clergy, bearing robes and umbrellas of many hues, perform rollicking dances and songs; the elders march solemnly with their weapons, attended by middle-ages men singing a long-drawn, low-pitched haaa hooo; and the children run about with sticks and games are the most impressive.”
“The young braves leap up and down in spirited dances, tirelessly repeating rhythmic songs are so escorted back to its church in colorful procession and festivities,” he further elaborated.

What Comes Next for the Astonishing Ethiopian Epiphany?
Epiphany is one of Ethiopia’s ancient intangible cultural heritages which have been preserved under the historic East African nation along with its age old cultures and civilizations while recently activities have been underway to inscribe the religious festival in the list of the world’s intangible heritages at UNESCO, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and stakeholders.
Jan Meda in the capital Addis Ababa and the ancient northern Ethiopian city, Gondar are the two ideal places to celebrate Ethiopian Epiphany for foreigners to join the tourist attracting religious ritual among others. 
Ethiopia, Land of Origins, is again presenting to the world Timket, an extraordinary and once in a lifetime kind of open air festival this year. Are you ready to enjoy one of the blessing treasures of Ethiopia with its ever cheerful people?

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