Bilen and Addisalem dancing in Gondar

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches hold a Timket Epiphany ceremony. It falls on the 19th of January (or the 20th in a leap year), which is the 11th day of Terr in the Ge’ez calendar.

The Jordan River baptism of Jesus is commemorated by Timkat. The festival’s highlight is a reenactment of christening ceremonies (similar to such reenactments performed by numerous Christian the Holy Land when they visit the Jordan).

During the Timkat ceremonies, the Tabot, an Ethiopian altar stone depicting the Ark of the Covenant (similar to the Western altar stone), is wrapped in fine cloth and carried in procession on the priest’s head. The Tabot depicts Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan as the Messiah, which is rarely seen by the general public. The Divine Liturgy is held early in the morning near a stream or pool (around 2 a.m.). As dawn approaches, the participants are blessed and showered with water from a nearby body of water, with some of them entering and immersing themselves in the water, symbolically confirming their baptismal vows.

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