At the religious grounds of Jan HoyMeda, in the northern sector of Addis Ababa, many thousands of clergy and worshippers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrated the season of Epiphany on Saturday (18 January).
At the religious grounds of Jan HoyMeda, in the northern sector of Addis Ababa, many thousands of clergy and worshippers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrated the season of Epiphany on Saturday (18 January). Emperor Haile Selassie and Patriarch Sergei Pimen of the Russian Orthodox Church also took part. Patriarch Pimen arrived in the Ethiopian capital on Thursday (17 January) for a week's visit.
Epiphany is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church's greatest religious festival. Each year it is celebrated with elaborate ceremony, dancing and feasts lasting three days. The religious season of Epiphany commemorates Christ's baptism in the River Jordan, and is a time when followers celebrate their spiritual birthday.
In Ethiopia the Eve of Epiphany is known as 'Ketera' ... a time when 'Tabots' (Arks of the Covenant) are carried in triumphal procession from their churches to safe overnight resting places -- usually near river banks. It is also a time of fasting.
The feast of Epiphany, known locally as 'Timkat', sees the end of a night of vigil, and the symbolic re-enactment of Christ's baptism as the clergy bless the water in a holy spring and sprinkle it over the faithful. After further prayers the 'Tabots' are borne back to their respective churches.
The religious celebrations were conducted by Patriarch Abuna Tewoflos. Over a third of the country's 25-million population belongs to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.