Sunday, 12 February 2012

Journal - Timkat Festival 20 January 2012

Timkat - this is the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebration of Epiphany. The processions start in Gonder and continue throughout the countryside. During the ceremonies, the tabot, which is the replica of the Ark of the Covenant is wrapped in rich cloth and carried in the procession on the head of a priest.
The procession starts with groups of young men chanting and waving their sticks vigorously. It was slightly unnerving, especially when we were close up.

Our guide found us a vantage point for viewing the procession on a balcony of a hotel. But some of us felt too removed from the action and went back in to the street to be part of the action.
The first photo shows the crowds beginning to gather in the main square of Gondar.
The procession would come down the road and then turn in front of the statue and go right past us!






The pageantry and excitement was unbelievable. A plane flew overhead and dropped phamplets, as well what looked like papyrus reeds.  Although we managed to catch one of the phamplets, we didn't know what it said only that it was supposed to be good luck!




The horses were highly decorated and had a part to play in the procession.





After the floats came the choirs, singing, chanting and clapping.









Then came the priests and monks with their flamboyant ceremonial umbrellas, and the Ark of the Covenant (replica).



At this stage, we decided to follow the procession down the street. and I don't quite know how, but we ended up in the actual procession itself. After apologising profusely to those near by, I thought it diplomatic to join in, so started clapping and dancing along with the rest. Unfortunately I didn't know the words so couldn't join in with the singing.








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