For Ethiopia, January is a month when the country receives an influx of tourists courtesy of a string of religious activities by the Ethiopian orthodox Tewahio Church.
Top on the list of these religious festivals includes the Ethiopian Christmas, Epiphany and Qana Zegelila. Ethiopian Epiphany known as “timkat” in Amharic is the most popular holiday throughout Ethiopia.
Timkat is a UNESCO recognized world heritage and is celebrated across all Ethiopian Tewahio churches in Ethiopia from mid to late January. The celebrations are in line with the apostolic traditions of the church since its inception.
Timkat starts with accompanying the ark of the covenants (tabots) to a river where baptisms are usually held. This event draws in a lot of tourists and faithful who flock places where the event is held.
Women, men, children and elders dress differently during Timket. The clothes are new and colourful signifying new dawn. While accompanying the ark of the covenant, to the church, the priests presiding over this ceremony perform a special religious dance, “shibsheba” in select places, a tradition that is now 1600 years old.
Ethiopian Epiphany shed a rare moment of attraction to one of Ethiopia’s ancient cities, Gonder which is beautifully decorated to mark this celebration attended by over 2 million faithful and over 15,000 visitors from across the world.
In Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, JanMeda – one of the select places where “shibsheba” is performed gives visitors a new and amazing outlook of the Ethiopian culture. It is known as the JanMeda celebration of timkat.
About 120 km away from Addis Ababa is Minjar, another of Ethiopia’s ancient cities where Minjar timkat celebration is held. Minjar is over 600 years old.