Timkat (Epiphany)


Ethiopia’s most colourful festival commemorates Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan and is celebrated around the country, On the eve of Timkat, It celebrated the baptism of Jesus. Children walk to church services in a procession. They wear the crowns and robes of the church youth groups that they belong to. Adults wear the shamma. The priests wear red and white robes and carry embroidered fringed umbrellas. Musical instruments are played during the Timkat procession. The sistrum is a percussion instrument with tinkling metal disks a bit like a vertical tambourine. A makamiya, a long T-shaped prayer stick is used to keep the rhythm and is also used by the priests and a stick to lean on during the long  Timkat church service!. During the night, the priests and faithful participate in a vigil around the tabots. The following morning (19 January) the crowds gather around the water, which is blessed then splashed onto them, and religious vows are renewed. The tabots are then paraded back to the church accompanied by much singing and dancing. A unique sight at the Gonder Timkat is of the faithful leaping into the baths for a full immersion ‘baptism’. though it’s most spectacular in the former capital of Gonder.