Saturday, January 18, 2014

Timkat (Ethiopian Epiphany) in Dire Dawa (18 January 2014)

Timkat ala Dire Dawa

So, of course, I want to immerse myself in the local culture. So when the cultural calendar alert sounded -- let's go!

It's Timkat. People were talking about it. I asked my colleagues about it. Students, too. And my pal, Wikipedia, of course.

Timkat (Amharic: ጥምቀት which means "baptism") is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany. It is celebrated on January 19 (or 20 on Leap Year), corresponding to the 10th day of Terr following the Ethiopian calendar. Timket celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. This festival is best known for its ritual reenactment of baptism (similar to such reenactments performed by numerous Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land when they visit the Jordan); early European visitors confused the activities with the actual sacrament of baptism, and erroneously used this as one example of alleged religious error, since traditional Christians believe in "one baptism for the remission of sins" (Nicene Creed). (Wikipedia)

It's a 3-day event, actually, withe something like 3 celebrations rolled into one. The main event, Timkat itself, was celebrated on the Saturday, January 18.

An interesting thing about it, though, is the lomi (lemon or is it lime?) - throwing. It's supposed to be a courting ritual. A young man throws a lomi at or to (?) a girl he likes, something. I'll have to look this up. A student said: "that's oldie stuff, teacher, no more these days..." That would have been the fascinating thing.

So in Dire Dawa, Timkat central was at the church near the menarya (bus station) and the Coca Cola plant. Delegates from all the other churches around the city marched towards here, where the main celebration was held. I went there, with Ma'am Luzzette. We were probably the only non-locals there, but Ma'am Luzzette came more prepared, as she brought and wore a white shawl over hear head (like all women there), but me, having none, stood out more (I think). I felt as if I was intruding, as it is. Because it's a religious event. At one point, it seemed like it was a " holy mass" of sorts (though more festive, than solemn, with drum-beating and dancing), and I was like, what am I doing taking pictures while they're worshiping? 

So the pictures below were taken after the "service".

Re-enacting Jesus' baptism
And it's all well-guarded!
(Low) bird's eye view of the event.
It's amazing how young involved the young people (both girls and boys) are in church festivities.

And we met a couple of students and had to have a photo with them!
Ma'am Ana (who came later, as we were leaving) and Ma'am Luzzette, flanked by our students.

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