Timket: A festive Occasion to Promote Ethiopia

20 Jan 2017
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(Solomon Dibaba: ENA )

Timket, meaning baptism is a religious festival celebrated with much paraphernalia in Ethiopia.  The festival is a major outdoor celebration colorfully marked in major cities of the country including Addis Ababa, Gondar, and Lalibella and also in rural areas in Ethiopia.  The festival is particularly celebrated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian believers to venerate Christ's baptism in the River Jordan.

Although the festival is observed by orthodox Christians all over the world, in Ethiopia it takes on a special significance as it is the most colorful event of the year in the country celebrated at the end of harvest season. The most relevant symbol of the festival is colorful embroidered umbrellas that protect the sacred Tabot and the priests carrying the Tabot.

Traditionally Timket is celebrated on 19th January every year with an exception in the leap year when it is celebrated on 20th January. The celebration corresponds to the 10th day of Tirr according to the Ethiopian calendar. The festival is famous for its re-enactment of baptism ritual of Christ at the River Jordan. The traditional ceremony of the festival includes respectfully carrying the Tabot – a model of the Ark of the Covenant wrapped in rich silk cloth by the priest on his head to the nearby water body locally known as Timkete Bahir.

 Timket is celebrated in a restive season in which farmers enjoy their harvest. January is also a month in which traditional and modern marriage ceremonies are conducted. Timket sets a special occasion in which the youth are engaged in traditional  dating in which young boys exchange lemon with girls they prefer or indicate their  choice by throwing lemon to the girl of their interest indicating their desire for courtship and ultimate marriage proposal.

Although Timket is a religious holiday, it is also celebrated as a festive cultural occasion on which everyone celebrating the occasion is attired with new dresses and outfits. An Amharic anecdote goes “Le Timket Yalehone Kemis Yibetates” meaning let the dress that is not for Timket end into shreds. The cultural dresses worn on the occasion by the faithful vividly depict a mosaic of dresses worn by men and women of different nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia.

Timket is marked by a variety of cultural dances from nations, nationalities and peoples in a single place. During the Imperial Regime, such cultural shows end up in skirmishes and fights between members of different nations and nationalities.
However, over the last 25 years, the cultural shows that were staged on Timket were as peaceful as ever. A sprit of respect, coexistence and understanding has prevailed as the peoples of this country have come to realize the importance of unity in diversity.

Over the last couple of years, hijacking occasions of religious festivals for a political leitmotif to fan out religious fanaticism has been observed. Such activities are totally inconsistent with the religious desired of the faithful and for all those who wish to enjoy peaceful Timket. It is incumbent upon the public to effectively safeguard their constitutional rights to free and peaceful worship devoid of any political agenda.

Timket will be celebrated on the occasion when peace and normal life has been restored throughout the nation. The effective implementation of the state of emergency has been instrumental to restore tourists’ desire to come and visit the country. In this respect the nation is expecting to host thousands of tourists who would like to enjoy the festivities of Timket and the warm weather in Ethiopia.

The faithful of this colorful celebration of Timket are getting ready to celebrate the occasion with full hope and optimism for peace and development of their country.

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