Kakuma News Reflector – A Refugee Free Press

Ethiopian Orthodox Church Celebrates Baptism Day

Posted in Community and Culture by KANERE on February 28, 2009

Volume 1, Issue 3 / February 2009

The baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan was beautifully commemorated by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church community with music, holy water, and sacred rituals


The Orthodox Church in Kakuma Camp and site of the celebrations

The Orthodox Church in Kakuma Camp and site of the celebrations

For Ethiopian Orthodox followers, Monday the 18th of January marked the eve of celebration for the baptism (timket) of Jesus Christ in Jordan River by the hand of John the Baptist. It is one of the most important annual religious festivals for Orthodox followers. Here in Kakuma Camp, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church community was alive with religious spirit.

A colorful procession snaked its way through the narrow sand streets of Kakuma, a crowd of religious observers gathered around priests carrying the symbol of the Arc of the Covenant (Tabot). Immediately surrounding the priests were deacons and choirs chanting in beautiful uniforms. They were in turn surrounded by a crowd of Orthodox believers of all ages, wearing their brilliant white Ethiopian costumes and singing in the streets. Together, the entire procession walked to the celebration site singing different songs.  

As the sun set at the celebration site, the prayer ended and everyone went back home. But some youths remained at the ceremonial tent to watch over the Tabot and protect it from thieves. In the Orthodox religion, the Tabot must be present wherever a mass takes place, so it is transported to the site of Timket baptism and stored in a specially prepared ceremonial tent.

After dark, believers again gathered at the Timket site for midnight prayers. A three-hour mass began the next morning at exactly 6 a.m. After mass, the real Timket ceremony began. Outside in the field, three large water tanks were filled to the brim with water.

The spirit of the ceremony focuses on the Holy Water. Priests prayed over the water and Timket began. Everyone in the crowd was eager to have a drop of Holy Water (Tsebel) sprinkled on them as priests poured Tsebel from a jug.

“I am happy that God made me today to celebrate this special occasion. As I prayed and poured this Holy Water on me all my sins washed away,” says a middle-aged woman wearing a very bright white traditional costume.

The Congregation went back home for the morning and returned again at 11 a.m. to transport the Tabot from the celebration site back to the church.

In the same style as before, the devout convened again to walk in procession singing praises to God. Boys, girls, men and women all joined the procession in groups as the Tabot was taken back to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church at midday.

4 Responses

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  1. belayneh demelash said, on July 23, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    the preparation concerning the orthodox church is very atractive and very interested histort that heps us to now more.
    Even though it is the first time for me to see this but i am very happy with it and i will be the one who follows always as much as possible.

    belayneh demelash
    Addis Ababa

  2. michael haile said, on January 18, 2010 at 2:24 am

    it wii be good if you add the historical biginig of babtism cellebration what is hear is to short and it is not attractive for the turist

  3. Abebe Tesfaye said, on July 5, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    we are the onely follws the tobot that mine the true cristanity

  4. esubalew tadesse said, on January 11, 2012 at 10:24 am

    peace be with you the people of kakuma refugee camp; one day you will all get liberations out of that horrific life. When i hav not seen the news from kakuma reflector, i knew then that they must have challenges so i am asking if any one can support the refugee journalist so tht they keep on doing thier good job at Kanere?

    thank you

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