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Rhythm-A-Day Blog for January 20, 2020: Timkat, Ethiopia

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

Timkat (Ethiopia)

Timkat in Ethiopia celebrates the feast of the Eipihany with a ritual reenactment of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.

The Tabot is a model of the Ark of the Covenant displayed on all Ethiopian altars. It is considered the Word of God himself, and remain completely covered, as it is not to be gazed upon. It is wrapped in rich cloth and carried on the head of the priests in processions and represents Jesus when he came to the Jordan.

Priests carrying Tabot (Wikimedia Commons)

Timkat starts at about 2 AM with the liturgy celebrated near water (a stream or pool). Near dawn the water is blessed and sprinkled on the participantsa, some of whom immerse themselves entirely. The festival is a renewal of Baptism vows for the congregation.

Around noon, the Tabot is festively escorted back to the church. The clergy dresws in colorful vestments, robes many-hued umbrellas; elders traditionally and solemnly bear their weapons. Once the holy ark is safely restored to the altar, everyone goes home to feast. 

The processional frequently features one large double-headed bass drum and the community accompanies chanting with syncopated clapping. In addition the Sistrum (a metal shaker which orginated in Egypt) may be used.


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