Blen and other artists dancing in Gondar for the holiday

In celebration of the holiday, Blen and other artists danced in Gondar. Ethiopia’s “cathedral” for ordination is located in Lalibela, which is also the country’s most popular tourist destination and Timkat location. King Lalibela, who had a vision of the Holy City of Jerusalem in the 13th century, hewn 11 churches into the rock and built them in this spiritual center. A key component of Timkat is the Ark of the Covenant, a golden chest made of wood that houses two stone tablets that record the Ten Commandments. Churches in Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity revere both the tabots, or replicas of the tablets, as well as this sacred artifact. Priests guard these priceless copies all year long, and they are displayed during Timkat. Getting close to the tabot is one of the pilgrims’ goals because even just being near it brings you closer to God. Priests carry the tabots down to the waterfront during the Timkat ceremony while wearing them on their heads. However, the tabots are always covered in an elaborate fabric because it is believed that they are too sacred for mere mortals to even look at. During Timkat, thousands of pilgrims follow the priests in a procession while singing, clapping, drumming, and dancing. The priests are covered by colorful, embroidered umbrellas and dressed in ceremonial robes. The priest then makes his way to the shore or holy lake, offers prayers, blesses the water with his golden cross, and sprinkles the crowd with it in a more solemn gesture. At this point, there is once more a widespread eruption of joy, and children typically dive into the water for an immersive experience. Many people continue to celebrate for another day, keeping the energy up by drinking a lot of tela, the local beer, and dancing to kabero, the traditional drums.

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