Timket is a religious festival celebrated with much zeal in Addis Ababa, Gondar, and Lalibela in Ethiopia. It is also spelled as Timkat or Timqat. The festival is the Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany and venerates Christ's baptism in the River Jordan. 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 colourful event of the year in the country. The most relevant symbol of the festival is colourful embroidered umbrellas that protect the sacred Tabot and the priests carrying the Tabot.
Timket Festival Tradition
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 Terr according to the Ethiopian calendar. The festival is famous for its re-enactment of baptism ritual of Christ at the River Jordan. The traditional ceremony of the festival includes respectfully carrying the Tabot – a model of the Ark of the Covenant wrapped in rich silk cloth by the priest on his head to the nearby water body.
Timket Festival Celebrations
Timket festival is celebrated to commemorate the divine ritual of the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River. The celebrations start from the eve of the festival which is on 18th January at 2 pm local time with traditional horns that herald the celebrations with colourful processions and ceremonies. The main ceremony commences with the priest solemnly carrying the Tabot which is a model of the Ark of the Covenant, reverently wrapped in rich silk cloth to the nearby stream at around 2am on 19th January. The Tabot is a representation of Jesus as the Messiah when he came to the Jordan River for baptism. The Holy Ark is immersed in the water by one priest whilst the other chants some prayers. Once the Ark is baptised, the priest then blesses the water body and sprinkles some of the blessed water on the devotees. Thereafter the Holy Ark is carried back to its church amidst lots of chanting, music, and dancing.
Tickets for Timket Festival
There are no tickets for the festival as it is open to everyone. Hence anyone can take part in the celebrations.
Tips for Timket Festival
Travellers can enjoy the festivities of Timket Festival at Addis Ababa, Gondar, or Lalibela.
Although the festival is celebrated at Addis Ababa, Lalibela, and Gondar in Ethiopia and each one has its own charm, the festivities at Addis Ababa are tourist friendly as Addis Ababa offers variety of facilities to tourists.
Pilgrims need to be careful of touts and pickpockets and not carry any valuable items with them while attending the festivities.
If you are attending the festivities in Gondar do make sure to visit the Church of Debre Berhan Selassie renowned for its finest art in Ethiopia.
Downtown Gondar with its Italian-inspired architecture, shops, and eating joints, is another interesting place you can explore once the festivities are over.
If you happen to be in Addis Ababa then you can shop for traditional crafts or catch some art shows or visit various museums in the city.
Since it is cold in January it is advisable to bring some woollens along with you.