Addis Ababa – Tourists who attended the Demera celebration of the Meskel festival in Meskel square in Addis Ababa said the unique features of the holiday should be further promoted to the entire world.
Tourists were astonished to see the huge gathering from followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church dressed mostly in white, choir groups composed of Sunday school students and priests present religious songs and the burning of the huge bonfire erected in the square.
Meskel, the finding of the True Cross, one of the most colorful outdoor festivals in Ethiopia has been celebrating for thousands of years.
Meskel, which literally means Cross, is a UNESCO registered intangible heritage. It begins on the eve called Demera. The following day is the actual day of Meskel.
Amina Mansoor, a tour operator in Madagascar, came here to know the tourism potential in Ethiopia and sell it to her country and the world.
Attending the festival for the first time, Mansoor was amazed on what she witnessed on the scene.
“I don’t think that people in Madagascar know that something like this is here. So, it is amazing to see the unity, peace and love among Christians celebrating Meskel”, she said.
The tour operator urged the importance to promote the festival to the rest of the world, as it deserves to be visited.
“I think for conserving this Meskel for tourism, you have to promote it to all over the world. Because in our country for example we don’t know Meskel festival is whether registered by UNESCO. So we have to promote it internationally and may be people will come, not European but also Madagascar people will come here”
Trisha Okenge, from Canada, thinks that Ethiopia should work better to promote the festival.
She said that the world doesn’t know much about the Meskel festival, urging the media to promote the unique feature of Meskel to attract more tourists.
“I don’t know that there was such a special tourist access to such celebration and you should make very accessible from outside of Ethiopia to come and celebrate and being proud of it. I think that it definitely a unique feature of this celebration.”
John Queening from UK, who compares Ethiopia with his country in celebrating the finding of the True Cross, agrees on the need to publicize the festival to the outside world.
He said the government and tourist operator should work together to promote the festival, which gathers many people with the spirit of unity.
“It is an amazing experience; a lot of people really enjoying, singing and celebrating. This really helps for people to see the experience of the people in finding the True Cross,” noting the importance to share it with the rest of the world.
At the eve of the feast of Meskel, followers of Orthodox Christians converge on town squares and open places to celebrate Demera.
A huge bonfire, made of wood, burned as part of the celebration, following spiritual songs by Sunday school students and clergy.