Holy water washes away sins at Ethiopia’s Timket festival

By Daisy Carrington and Aja Harris, CNN

Every week, Inside Africa takes its viewers on a journey across Africa, exploring the true diversity and depth of different cultures, countries and regions. Follow host Errol Barnett on Twitter andFacebook.

Timket is celebrated slightly differently in each region of Ethiopia, depending on access to water. If it's not possible to immerse oneself, it is acceptable to get sprinkled with water. (Photo: Carl de Souza, Getty Images)
Timket is celebrated slightly differently in each region of Ethiopia, depending on access to water. If it’s not possible to immerse oneself, it is acceptable to get sprinkled with water. (Photo: Carl de Souza, Getty Images)

Gondar, Ethiopia (CNN) — France has Lourdes, India has the Ganges. Ethiopia, meanwhile, has Gondar.

Situated about 450 miles north of Addis Ababa, encapsulated by hills and tall trees, and dotted with 17th-century relics from the city’s glory days (when it was the country’s capital), Gondar today can seem somewhat remote. During the religious festival of “Timket,” however, the city is inundated with pilgrims who come to re-enact the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, and take a dip in the holy waters at the historical Fasilides Bath.

On the morning of Timket, priests hold services, then bless the waters in the Fasilides Bath -- filled once a year for the ceremony. (Photo: Carl de Souza, Getty Images)
On the morning of Timket, priests hold services, then bless the waters in the Fasilides Bath — filled once a year for the ceremony. (Photo: Carl de Souza, Getty Images)

Nearly two thirds of Ethiopia’s 94 million population is Christian, and the majority of those belong to the Orthodox church. For them, Timket — celebrating the Epiphany — is among the most important occasions of the year. It’s is a two-day affair that begins with a procession of “tabots,” holy replicas of the Ark of the Covenant — the sacred chests described in the Book of Exodus as carrying the stone tablets on which the 10 Commandments were written.

The tabots are wrapped in cloth and placed on the heads of Ethiopian Orthodox Christian priests, who parade the streets en route to the bath. The priests, clad in ceremonial robes, are escorted by drums and by the clapping and singing of worshipers, who hold an overnight vigil until dawn. Read more at CNN.com

 

Share

You might also like More from author

Comments are closed.