BY SOLOMON DIBABA
Timket, meaning baptism is a UNESCO inscribed religious festival celebrated with much paraphernalia in Ethiopia. The festival is a major outdoor celebration colorfully marked in cities, small towns and rural areas of the country including Addis Ababa and Gondar, where the celebrations are highly spectacular. The festival is particularly celebrated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian believers to venerate Christ’s baptism in the River Jordan.
Apart from its religious and cultural importance, Timket has always remained a major tourist attraction festival in Ethiopia.
Although the festival is observed by orthodox Christians all over the world, in Ethiopia it takes on a special significance as it is the most colorful event of the year. The most relevant symbol of the festival is colorful embroidered umbrellas to honour the sacred Tabot is a replica of the original ark brought down from Mount Sini.
Traditionally, Timket is celebrated on 19th January every year with an exception in the leap year when it is celebrated on 20th January. The celebration corresponds to the 10th day of Tir according to the Ethiopian calendar. The festival is famous for the baptism ritual of Christ at the River Jordan. The traditional ceremony of the festival includes respectfully carrying the Tabot wrapped in rich silk cloth by the priest on his head to the nearby water body locally known as Timkete Bahir.
Timket is celebrated in a restive season in which farmers enjoy their harvest. January is also a month in which traditional and modern marriage ceremonies are conducted. Traditionally, Timket sets a special occasion for young boys and girls where the former throw lemon to the latter as a sign of love for serious relationship, engagement and marriage in the future.
Although Timket is a religious holiday, it is also celebrated as a festive cultural occasion on which everyone celebrating the occasion is attired with new dresses and outfits. An Amharic anecdote goes “Le Timket Yalehone Libse Yibetates” (literally translated as ‘let the dress that is not for Timket end into shreds’. The cultural dresses worn on the occasion by the faithful vividly depict a mosaic of dresses worn by men and women of different nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia. As indicated above, Timket is also an occasion in which young men choose their life partners in an event called Lomi Bewerwir on which unmarried young men throw lemons at the girl of their choice for possible future marriage.
Timket is marked by a variety of cultural dances from nations, nationalities and peoples enjoy together. A sprit of respect, coexistence and understanding have prevailed as the peoples of this country have come to realize the importance of unity in diversity.
Timket is celebrated on the occasion when peace and normal life is being restored in various parts of Amhara and Afar, encouraging many tourists to come and visit the country. In this respect, the nation is expecting to host thousands of tourists who would like to enjoy the festivities of Timket and the warm weather in Ethiopia.
The colorful celebration of Timket is marked with full hope and optimism where efforts are underway to consolidate peace and development in the country.
This year’s Timket is also celebrated at the critical time where the terrorist TPLF carried out aggression in Amhara and Afar states, with the support of some external forces to dismantle the elected government of Ethiopia, threatening the unity and sovereignty of the country. Thanks to the commitment of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) and other regional security forces, the danger was successfully reversed.
Terrorist TPLF looted, vandalized and destroyed churches and mosques in Amhara and Afar. The terrorist organization showed its utter disrespect for all religious values and killed monks and priests in the areas it temporarily occupied in Amhara region.
Despite these barbaric activities by terrorist TPLF the faithful in Amhara and the rest of Ethiopia recently celebrated the Ethiopian Christmas. And today, as the result of the Great Coming Home Challenge, launched by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, hundreds and thousands of Ethiopians and foreign nationals of Ethiopian origin are celebrating Timket among their compatriots.