Timket is festival of Ethiopian origin. In Ethiopia, Timket is a means of celebrating epiphany. This one of the most colourful event of Ethiopia and is celebrated with a great zeal. On this day, Christians from Ethiopia celebrate the baptism of Jesus on the Jordan River. This has a specific significance in Ethiopia. Christians from all over world assemble at Ethiopia. The speciality of this festival is the imitation of the act of baptism.
Commencement of Timket and the Ark of Covenant:
The festival commences at the Timket eve which comes eleven days after the orthodox Christmas celebrations i.e. on January 18. Ark of the Covenant is a holy and most sacred element which is treasured in the Ethiopian church. This tabot is assumed of being abducted from Jerusalem to Ethiopia at the time of the first millennium BC. There are various replicas of this Ark in almost all churches in Ethiopia.
On the day of the festival there are religious processions carried out from every church. Each church procession comprises of the replicas of the Ark of Covenant. These holy Tabot are wrapped in a silk cloth and carried by the respective priests towards a water body. Thus the procession starts from the church and ends at the nearby river body.
Followers from Ethiopia and all over the world take part in the processions. The crowd comprises of about tens of thousands of devotees who follow the priest. They sing and chant holy songs. They dance to the beats of the drums. They sing prayers for the almighty lord. The atmosphere is both spiritual and festive. The scenario of the procession bears close resemblance to the scene which is talked about in the Old Testament of the Bible.
There is overnight observation by the priest and disciples. They gather around the Ark and remain awake for the whole night. They offer prayers until its dawn. Then the follows make a huge circle around the water while the priest offers blessings to the water. This marks the ending of the celebration. Then the crowd jumps into the waters and have a holy bath. They believe their sins are washed away after having this holy bath. Later there are new oaths made on the Ark which replace the old ones. The new oaths symbolise new hopes and aspirations. After this, the replicas of the Ark of Covenant are taken back to their respective churches and preserved until next Timket.
There is parade organised for three days. Each day is full of colour and entertainment. Though it is a religious festival, there is no less dose of entertainment and enjoyment. The final day is dedicated Archangel Mikael and has a magnificent parade.
Thus every year Timket takes place in the town of Gondar in Ethiopia and is the most cherished festival. The water body used is a bath pool which was built in 17th century by Emperor Fasiladas in the historic palace. It provides place for worship for the followers as well as a means of enjoyment during the Timket festival.