Covid-19: Health Ministry Urges Caution during Timket/Epiphany Celebration

ADDIS ABABA – Health officials on Monday urged the public to caution during Ethiopian epiphany/Timket festival celebration as the Covid-19 cases rise.

The festival is celebrated all over Ethiopia to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

“People who gather to celebrate the holiday need to be vigilant and careful,” said the ministry of health on Monday after wishing “a happy and safe holiday.

The manner epiphany celebrated which involves bringing many people together, could be conducive for transmission of Covid-19 from one another, according to the ministry of health.

COVID-19 case counts have been rising in the east African nation in recent weeks.

To date, Ethiopia has confirmed a total of 457,322 after testing close to 4.26 million people. At least 7, 147 people lost their lives in the country where 435 patients are severely sick.

The ministry of health strongly urged the public to repeatedly wash their hands, wear masks, and ensure enough space from each other while celebrating the holiday.

About Timket Celebration  

Ethiopian epiphany/Timket is a colorful festival celebrated all over Ethiopia to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist in the River Jordan.

The commemoration starts on the eve of the main festival on 18 January. The eve is known as Ketera, which means blocking the flow of water for the blessing of the celebrants.

On the eve of Ketera, people escort their parish church tabot (replicas of the Ark of the Covenant) to Timkete-Bahir (a pool, river or artificial reservoir), transported by a priest of the parish and accompanied by a great ceremony.

The people spend the night attending night-long prayers and hymn services, including the Eucharistic Liturgy.

Hundreds of thousands participate in the actual festival on the following day – 19 January.

The celebration starts early in the morning with pre-sunrise rituals. These are followed by the sprinkling of the blessed water on the congregation, as well as other ceremonies.

At around 10 a.m., each Tabot begins its procession back to its respective church, involving an even more colorful ceremony with various traditional and religious songs.

The viability of the element is ensured through its continued practice, with Orthodox clergies playing a pivotal role: they sing the praises dedicated to the rituals and hymns, carry the Ark, and preach relevant texts.


featured image caption: People wearing face masks approach Entoto Kidanemehret Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on August 22, 2020. (Photo File/Minasse Wondimu /Anadolu Agency]