The armed conflict that began in November 2020 did not prevent it, but dried up as the echoes of the war drums in the far north reached all corners of the country.
The celebrations of 2021 and 2022 were generally filled with joy and quelled with belligerence. They took place under tight security and in their speeches priests and other religious leaders called for the restoration of peace.
Last November, the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front agreed to cease hostilities and begin humanitarian action and the restoration of constitutional order in that territory, reassuring tens of millions of Ethiopians.
And it is that the nation, plagued by perennial problems, victims of the pandemic like the world, marred by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine like the rest of East Africa, walked towards the abyss hand in hand with this conflagration.
Considered the most important national festive and religious event, Timkat (baptism, in Amharic) is the celebration of the Epiphany of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, although it has nothing to do with the so-called western world associated with the Three Wise Men.
Every January 19 (20 in leap years) in Ethiopia the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River by John the Baptist is commemorated, a tradition that was inscribed on the Representative List of Humanity’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2019.
The commemoration began the day before with a ceremony known as ketera, a term meaning that the flow of water is blocked for the blessing of the devotees.
Amid the rites, numerous practitioners, led by priests, escorted replica Ark of the Covenant from churches to rivers, lakes, or other natural or man-made bodies of water.
Archbishops, bishops, clergy and faithful in that capital, Gondar and Lalibela, to name but the cities where the celebration is special, celebrated and celebrated without dispute and under conditions of great security, judging from reports and images obtained from these places were published.
It is the same millions of citizens who are welcoming the return of peace in Tigray and also in the northern states of Afar and Amhara who have been invoking Ketera-Timkat with song, hymn, dance and scripture reading since yesterday.
They reportedly represent the second largest population of Orthodox Christians in the world and now they are not asking for help to restore peace. This year 2023 they are praying so that war will not return and they can embark on the path of prosperity once and for all.