ADDIS ABABA, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Tigist Asfaw, an Ethiopian Orthodox Church faithful, usually celebrated the unique Ethiopian epiphany by attending the distinctive religious and cultural processions both at church and at home with her extended family relatives and neighbors.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, forced Tigist and so many other Ethiopian Orthodox Church followers to limit their usual activities, including avoiding large gatherings.
Amid widespread calls by government officials and church elders to strengthen anti-COVID-19 precautionary measures, Ethiopian Orthodox Christians across the East African country on Tuesday welcomed the main event of the three-day Ethiopian epiphany, the baptism of Jesus Christ.
The Ethiopian epiphany (Timket in Amharic), which is largely considered as one of Ethiopia's highly rated public events, is a three-day affair involving distinctive religious and cultural activities.
Even though the core religious idea attached to the Ethiopian epiphany is similar to other Christians worldwide, the celebrations are quite unique in Ethiopia.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had in 2019 inscribed Timket on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which was attributed to unique Timket celebrations across Ethiopia - Africa's second populous nation with an estimated 107 million total population.
"I never missed church processions during Timket ever since I remembered," Tigist told Xinhua on Tuesday, adding that she wouldn't even miss this year's edition of the celebration if not for the pandemic warnings and the fact that she had a baby boy to take care of at home.
"The only reason I'm not participating in the processions this time around is the safety of my child. I fear that I might contract the virus and infect my innocent baby boy," she said.
In normal times before the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Ethiopian epiphany is a colorful festival celebrated all over Ethiopia to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ, in which the commemoration starts on the eve of the main festival, which falls on Jan. 18, or Jan. 19 during a leap year.
On the first day of the celebration, the Ark of the Covenant replicas (Tabots in Amharic) of each church is carried out in procession to a public space where the next main day's celebration will take place.
A special tent is set up at the public space where each replica of the Ark of the Covenant rests as members of the church choirs chant hymns all night long and are accompanied by priests with their prayer.
The beating of drums, ringing of bells, and other spiritual activities are integral parts of the Timket celebrations. Enditem