Epiphany ends with a communal pool party in the east African country.
One of the most important religious festivals of the year, Timket is a kind of mass baptism in which young and old gather by the pool of their local church to be splashed and sprayed with holy water – before jumping in.
Marking the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan, Timket is celebrated all over Ethiopia, but the festivities in the remote northern city of Gondar, once the seat of Ethiopian emperors, are particularly impassioned.
The two-day affair begins on January 17 with a procession of “tabots”, models of the Ark of the Covenant – the sacred chests said to have carried the stone tablets on which the 10 Commandments were written.
Ethiopian Orthodox Christian priests carry the tabots to Unesco-listed Fasilides’ Bath to the tune of ceremonial drums and there hold an vigil until dawn.
Once the waters have been blessed in the morning, and pilgrims splashed with water, the mood turns jubilant as hundreds rush to jump into the 17th-century pool.
As the party winds downs, the tabots are paraded back to their respective churches to the accompaniment of singing and dancing by young monks and priests in colourful robes.