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The Incredible Epiphany Festival In Ethiopia

We arrived on Saturday 18th January, 2020 on the eve of the biggest event in the Ethiopia social calendar called  the TIMKET FESTIVAL.

Our team from Ghana joined other participating countries from Nigeria , Ivory Coast, Cameroon,  Senegal,  Brazil, China, Germany,  France , Korea and other countries from across the world in the celebrations.

Skylight Hotel, a five star Hotel facility owned by Ethiopian Airlines hosted our team with a spectacular welcome at the outstanding international quality property very close to the Airport.

Ethiopia is a nation in the North Eastern part of Africa also known as the “HORN OF AFRICA”. It is an ancient state of wonder or an inspiration beyond human description.

 The National Museum was the first stop of our city tour with our tour Guide Mr.Sisay from Et Holidays. He really helped us to understand the History of Ethiopia from the Biblical times to present day. We began the tours with some amazing extinct creatures at the basement of the museum. I was particularly struck by an information board headed “And the world became African” explaining how all human life as we know today began from the spot where we were standing.

Delegates at Ethiopia National Museum

On display at the second level of the museum were portraits of every Ethiopian leader from EMPEROR TEWODROS  II ( 1855 – 1868) , EMPEROR YOHANNES 4TH ( 1872 – 1889), EMPEROR MENELIK II (1889 – 1913), EMPRESS ZEWDITU MENELIK (1916  – 1930) daughter and successor of Emperor MENELIK II, Haile Selassie, Crown prince and regent of the Ethiopian Empire from 1916 – 1930 , and finally EMPEROR from 1930 – 1974, Then colonel Mengistu Mariam a solider and a politician who assassinated Emperor Haile Selassie and became the Chairman of the Socialist military Junta  DERG from 1977  – 1987 and president of the people’s Democratic Republic of Ethiopia from 1987 – 1991 and H.E Meles  Zenawi (1991 – 2012) to the current Prime Minister,  ABIY AHMED..

If you wonder how the Ark of the covenant was celebrated in the Biblical times then you must certainly experience the Ethiopian Epiphany also known as TIMKET FESTIVAL.

TIMKET which means baptism is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration on the 19th of January every year. It was such a colourful flamboyant spiritual uplifting festival with the procession of priests carrying replicas of the ark of covenant.

We joined the celebrants singing songs, playing horns and harps in the procession for about 10 kilometres until we converged at the assembly grounds amidst heavy security and crowd control.

Priests carrying Tabot (Ark of Covenant)
Horns blowing at Epiphany procession
Large crowd in procession at Epiphany Festival, Ethiopia.
Chinese kid at Timket Festival
Elevation by Tourists to catch the glimpse of the possession
His Holiness Abune Mathias I, Sixth Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

On the following day, which was Monday we joined the crowd of worshippers’ early morning around 5am in one of the most important activity of the Epiphany.

The liturgy was celebrated at a pool early in the morning blessed towards dawn and water sprinkled on the worshipers and a message from His Holiness The Patriarch this we were told represents the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan for baptism.

Nearly two thirds of Ethiopian’s 94 million population is Christian and the majority of those belong to the Orthodox church. For them, Timket Festival is the most important occasion of the year. The worshippers rushed for the holy sprinkled water which in their belief cleanse sins ,diseases and brings favour. The occasion also serves as an opportunity for the unmarried to find lovers

By noon on the TIMKET day , a large crowd assembled at the ritual site for those who went home for a little sleep and the Holy ark was escorted back to its church in a colourful procession.

Dressed up in their finest clothes, the women, men, children,  the clergy bearing robes and Umbrellas performed rollicking dances and songs.

After the Holy Ark was restored to its dwelling place everyone goes home for feasting.

Our team from west Africa including Hajia Bilikisu , the President of Nigeria Tour Operators Association, Ambassador Nancy Sam, President of Women in Tourism, Ghana, Mr. Francis Doku, General Manager at Media General (Radio Subsidiary), Mr. Godwin Dogbey from Kaya Tours Ghana among others were treated to a cultural dance  display and dinner at the Skylight Hotel in the evening of the feasting

Ethiopia is a one of the most amazing place in the world for people to experience natural unforgettable retreat. It also has spectacular landscapes placed on UNESCO heritage lists.

What an experience with breathtaking scenery we find ourselves exploring a beautiful Striking features in Addis Ababa which means a new flower.

Please Note that this article is base on my own personal experiences. It is worthy to mention the enormous role played by Ethiopian Airlines in driving visitor arrives to this ancient country.

 

Abeikusantana
Travel and Tourism Trade Practitioner

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