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Orthodox Church Followers Celebrating Eve of Ethiopian Epiphany

ADDIS ABABA – Ketera Festival, eve of Timket Holiday is being celebrated among Orthodox Christian faithfuls across Ethiopia.

Ethiopian epipheny/Timket is one of the intangible heritages of humanity inscribed by UNESCO.

It marks the travel of Jesus Christ from Galilee to River Jordan and his baptism by John the Baptist.

In Addis Ababa, the festival is being celebrated in Jan Meda where most of the tabots (replicas of the Ark of the Covenant) from several churches come together to spend the night.

Many people are expected to spend the night attending night-long prayers and hymn services.

Similar celebrations are undergoing across the nation including Gondar City with faithfuls attending the festival in places designated for the festival.

Ethiopian Airlines on Monday said it has carried out 22 local flights to the historical town where the Timket is celebrated colorfully.

The main Timket celebration will follow on Wednesday morning with pre-sunrise rituals and prayers followed by the showering of blessed water on the faithful to mark the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist at River Jordan.

About the Celebration

The Commemoration of Ethiopian epiphany/Timket 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, 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.