Tag Archives: Ethiopian orthodox

Timket 2.0

11 Feb

Living here for two years you get a few chances to see holiday celebrations. Is this craziness typical? What exactly is a tobat? Do I really have to get up at 3am? These are the questions you have a year to mull over before diving in to the second time on a holiday. This is my second Timket in Gondar. And it’s just as crazy as last year.

watching the parade

watching the parade

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on the way to the bath

on the way to the bath

Priest with an i-pad... yup.

Priest with an i-pad… yup.

Per usual, we started the day before with a parade of the arcs of the covenant down from the 44 Orthodox churches in town. Though not as much of a spectacle as last year, there were just as many people walking right in front of my house.

A priest pouring holy water float

A priest pouring holy water float

We woke up at 2:45am (learned our lesson from last year) and went down to the baths to get good seats on the rickety platforms. Lucky for us, this year they reserved seats for tourists so we just pretended not to speak Amharic for a day. Last year I was right in amongst the crowds, but this year we were more separated. I’m glad I got to experience both. Being in the thick of things last year was a great introduction to my community and the culture. This year, after living her for a while, ya…. I deserved the breather.

dawn prayer

dawn prayer

Fasil Bath at Night

Fasil Bath at Night

waiting for the service

waiting for the service

The rickety platforms

The rickety platforms

Timket in Gondar!

Timket in Gondar!

Timket is Gondar at its best and worst. People travel from all over Ethiopia to worship at the baths, as well as see the sights. A bazaar is set up the week before, tour companies pick up all sorts of business, and professional pickpockets from Addis come up to take advantage. The ceremony is both spiritual and chaotic. Young men jump in with no thought to the significance – one almost fell in before the water was blessed. But as the ceremony moves from religious to more generally cultural, we still get to experience a very unique part of Ethiopian life. This year many of the PCVs who visited jumped in to the pool! I declined, knowing from last year how cold it would be.

 

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jumping in!

jumping in!

the first jumper! right after the priest blessed the water

the first jumper! right after the priest blessed the water

in the holy water

in the holy water

so. cold.

so. cold.

climbing the trees to get a good view - too bad they aren't sycamores, that would have been perfect

climbing the trees to get a good view – too bad they aren’t sycamores, that would have been perfect

Seeing this holiday for the second time, I’ve come to realize how much I really have integrated into life here. Hearing the questions other tourists were asking their guides, I felt pretty knowledgeable. We knew where to go, when to go, and who to schmooze. I ran in to many many friends and acquaintances. It really is a community holiday, and on some level I’m really part of the community now.

so many visitors

so many visitors

priests at service

priests at service

Playing Tourist – Debre Birhan Selassie Church

11 Jun

Living in a tourist town has its pros and cons. Pro- Lots of people are always coming through. Con- My excuses not to tour said people around are becoming incredibly feeble. But, my good friend Chad cracked my tour aversion and finally got me to go to Debre Birhan Selassie Church, one of the more famous churches in Ethiopia, a hop, skip and jump away from my doorstep.

Debre Birhan Selassie Church

Debre Birhan Selassie Church

Debre Birhan Selassie loosely translates to Mountain of Light Holy Trinity Church. That fact alone got me star tourist status immediately. Gotta love Peace Corps language training. The Australians thought me and Chad were super gobez.

Chad and I getting our tourist on

Chad and I getting our tourist on

The typical big eyed floating head paintings you see in many hotels and restaurants around the country are modeled after the artwork in this church. It is one of the more famous orthodox churches in the country, and for just 40 birr they will doctor your birth certificate too! (Seriously. The lack of record keeping here means you can pick what year you were born if you need an ID).

Angel heads on the ceiling

Angel heads on the ceiling

Painted in portraits from top to bottom, scenes of biblical characters and some not so biblical characters cover the walls. This is actually one of the only places in the world there is a depiction of Muhammed, since in Islam you cannot draw living things.

Mohammed on a camel... Not exactly sure what's leading him, or I am and I won't mention it.

Mohammed on a camel… Not exactly sure what’s leading him, or I am and I won’t mention it.

Daniel on a lion, I assume after the lion's den

Daniel on a lion, I assume after the lion’s den

Being some of the only tourists who can speak Amharic, I was able to get a student discount on my ticket (what up no date on the BU ID) and got a personal tour from the priest, who seemed to like me… a lot. Could be a difference in personal space thing though.

You can't tell, but he is holding on to my arm for dear life

You can’t tell, but he is holding on to my arm for dear life

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Showing off for the camera

Showing off for the camera

St. George is thought of as the patron saint of Ethiopia. We have Georgis draft beer, about 100 churches named Georgis, and of course a prominent spot on the wall of DebreBirhan Selassie.

St. George killing the dragon- did not know there were dragons in Ethiopia

St. George killing the dragon- did not know there were dragons in Ethiopia

The Selassie - The Holy Trinity

The Selassie – The Holy Trinity

And some other photos of the grounds:

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