Addis Ababa April 24/ 2019 The longest fasting season in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is called Abiy Tsom (Great Lent).
It is observed through the 55 faithful fasting and prayer days. The fasting period is 8 weeks long where each week has its own typical name.
Fasting in the Orthodox Church is usually considered abstaining from certain foods like meat, milk, egg during specific days or periods. However, fasting means more than simply refraining from foods, it also include refraining from marital relations and restrictive leisure, among the others. Surely, it is a time when there is more focus on abstaining from evil actions and thoughts.
ENA talked to the Secretary General of Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, Priest Tagay Taddele regarding the name of the weeks. Thus, the names of the weeks are mentioned as follow:
It is the first week of Abiy Tsom, the lent, where followers remember the coming of Jesus to the world to save sinners.
Kidist (God’s Holiness), during this week, the word Igzio Tesehalene (Lord, Have Mercy), is recited in prayers by the Orthodox Church adherents in lieu of pleading for forgiveness of their sin.
The third week is called Mkurab ( Temple), it is dedicated to memorize the holiness of the temple in a manner that it is written in the Bible that “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you are,” the Priest said, citing 1Corinthiansv16-17.
Metsagu (Infirmity) is the fourth week of the fasting before Easter, meaning Christ came to this world not only to preach and teach concerning the kingdom of God but to heal the sick, free those possessed with demons and related mental illness.
Metsagu was a person who was sick for 38 years and no one was around to treat him; however, Jesus Christ healed him.
Debre Ziet (Mount of Olives) is the fifth week. It is the mid-term of the lent season. Jesus thought at the Mount of Olives about his return in glory at the sermon on Mount of Olives.
The six lent week is called Gebre Heir (Good and Faithful Servant). This Sunday is dedicated to accentuate those servants who have pleased their Lord and Scriptures which focus on the perseverance and perfect service of the righteous.
The seventh week is Nikqodimos(Nicodemus) – he was one of the leaders of the Jewish faith during the times of Jesus. Since Jesus was not accepted by Jewish people, he went to Jesus to learn every night not to be seen by Jewish as Jesus taught him about the importance of baptism.
The last week, of course, the week that the followers are observing known as Hosanna commemorating the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem(Hosanna), where the week is termed Semune Himamat locally, meaning suffering week dedicated to the agony that Christ had to sustain on the cross.
It started on Palm Sunday leading up to late Saturday night and venerates Jesus’s march into Jerusalem on a donkey with Palm twigs laid before him. It is marked with palms worn by many worshipers on hands or head, procession and special services.
Finally, Easter Sunday marks the end of Abiy Tsom or the Great Lent, the period of bodily fasting comes to an end.