2019/01/24

Part Three: Last week, Timket (Epiphany) ceremony in Lalibela, Ethiopia



We continue sharing the experiences of our Canadian friend and global wanderer, and former neighbour in Vancouver-- Raymond, who recently opened a Lodge in the highlands of Ethiopia.  Fikir and Ray Lodge is located in Lalibela, an UNESCO heritage designated town.  The Lodge is providing a means of livelihood for many local young people.  See Part One (December 21st, 2018) and Part Two (January 9th, 2019).

Last week, on January 19th, Raymond and thousands of others participated in a unique, traditional event, a highlight of the Ethiopian calendar:  Orthodox Christians celebrated Timket, or Epiphany, which commemorates the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.

Although Timket is celebrated near a source of water, and has the city of Gonder as its pivotal point, Lalibela has a significant share of Timket ceremonies.   People come from all over other parts of Ethiopia, including the capital of Addis Ababa, and around the world.  We include here in this post some photos which speak for themselves.

The highlight of Timket takes place when the Tabot (a model of the Ark of the Covenant that according to tradition contains the Ten Commandments), bound in cloth, is carried by the priests in a procession. 

Higher church officials join the priests closest to the Tabot itself, but anyone is free to walk in the procession with the clergy, although at a certain distance. Orthodox students are dressed in white and blue. 

A carpet is continually picked up and re-laid in forward fashion, for the benefit of the priests, and Tabot.  Everyone else, lay people, students, lesser levels of clergy, follow alongside.

Musicians playing traditional trumpets, or imbilta, lead the way. The instruments symbolize the description in the Bible that trumpets were played when the Ark of the Covenant was being moved.

Church leaders, dressed in their religious robes and carrying crucifixes and umbrellas, then followed.Timket is not celebrated inside the churches, but outside. 

In Raymond’s words, the experience was an extraordinary one.  “The carpet expanding in front, while the procession moving forward, the priests, and Tabot, which was trailing behind large rotating circles of eager young men, who advanced in front ... the shrill cries of the women breaking out. And the exuberant, and spontaneous clapping (myself included) along with intense drumming, and singing.


[With thanks to Raymond, of Fikir and Ray Lodge.]






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