Addis Ababa (Agenzia Fides) – The celebrations of the Orthodox Epiphany, locally known as Timkat, began on Wednesday afternoon, January 19. Following tradition, worshipers set out on Lake Ziway in canoes, motorboats and kayaks made from papyrus stalks. In turn, the priests set out from monasteries located on five promontories of the lake, flanked by clergy, dressed in red, blue, white and gold.
The lake is 120 kilometers south of Addis Ababa and is the center of the annual celebrations of the baptism of Christ, one of the holiest days in the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar.
Carrying tabots, replicas of the Covenant tablets on which Christians believe the Ten Commandments given to Moses were engraved, the priests aboard boats laden with crosses and other icons arrived at the center of Lake Ziway where, surrounded by faithful they performed the sprinkling rites.
The devotees, themselves dressed in white from head to toe, gathered in all available boats, including traditional ones, known as tankwa, made from the papyrus plant.
Once the procession returned to the shore of the lake, also called Tembel, the celebration began with singing, drums, bells and horns, before an all-night prayer vigil.
The next day, Thursday, January 20, the priests returned to the lake to bless the water and the faithful. Some chose to dive directly into the lake, while the children played in the shallows. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 24/1/2023)