Posts tagged ‘Ethiopian Holidays’

TimQet beEgna sefer


Once upon a time, not long ago, our “sefer”, too, had a TimQet Meda of it’s own. This “meda” (field) served for either horse-riding practice for the wannabee-horsemen and women of “BalDerass”; or a hiding place, or so we were forewarned, for the local snakes and vipers. But that’s not the only reason why I associated dark premonitions with the place, even when it’s filled with the song and dance of TimQet day (song, dance and “Sambusa”, a “durye-MiGib” we weren’t allowed to have any other day of the year).

I went to “Yeka Misrak Chora”, or “Bitweded” as we called it back then, for my junior high education. A tiny public school made up of Addis-Born Kotebe graduates who refused to go to the country-side to teach, holding upto 135 students a classroom, “Bitweded” was located next to this grassy field. When I was grade 7, a woman later discovered to have been a servant girl, was found dead in it’s midst. I haven’t seen the dead girl personally. “Abba Dina”, who I fancied was a broad-shouldered old man with grave eyes, has “taken her” when me and my younger brother Menelik (who always missed out on the fun side of school-life because we lived near and ate lunch @ home) arrived. But what I’ve been told: of the way she lie, the screaming old women who put “netela” on her half naked body, the possibility of her having been strangled by the Lord of the house with whom she may have had an illicit affair, etcetera, have haunted my dreams for days and been the cause of many unimpressive short stories with “Geredwan maan Gedelat?” for a theme. [A riddle “Abba Dina” has yet to resolve, I believe.]

This “meda” hosts blocks after blocks of condominium apartments nowadays. So any man, woman, or “Tabot” interested in being part of the TimQet celebration would have to go all the way to Jan Meda. And many have. By taking a mini-van, a lada or being part of the procession that followed Qebena Kidanemihret’s Tablet (which I sadly observed has become “KerTaTawaa Kidanemihret” for a day, due to the ring-road construction taking place there making the road muddy and impossible to walk on for a group of more than three).

The undersigned was not part of that procession. Preferring to miss out on the colorful celebration than go and risk having her limbs fly hither and thither, she’s refrained from joining the faithful. (As if being a coward wasn’t enough, this TimQet has reminded me I was what “Yes Man”, Jim Carrey’s latest movie, would label a “No”-woman: one of those gutless creatures who trade what’s “out there” for the less complicated “in here”! Devising an excuse, as an unhappy fox once did, to make the pain less .. well .. painful. “The grapes were sour anyway” or “It’s not like i haven’t seen it all”! When I tell you how even the thought of this year’s TimQet likely being my last TimQet in Ethiopia for years to come failed to outweigh my fear of a terrorist bomb, you’d understand just how strong my desire to remain in one piece is). Which is why the following videos are not of a circle of teenagers’ dancing to the sound of a harmonica playing. Or of our proud brothers from the West jumping above the “dulla” they carried, creating an “abwaara” like there is no tomorrow. Or even of a shy country-beauty being dragged into the middle by a “Dimmtse merewa” awraj she may or may not have had her eyes on. [“Lomi” costing 50 cents a piece, eyes seem to be the only thing men and women could afford to throw @ eachother nowadays.]

Nay! These may remind you of those. But are of a less exciting nature. They are religious videos: with tabot procession and a part secular/part religious group song I’ve heard in the past but am still unable to figure out the meaning of. I’m posting them here as an “ejj mensha” for my unnotified absence of five days [studying for my Prose & Style Exam on Thursday & Friday; having a weekend break on Saturday & Sunday; celebrating TimQet on Monday]. And in the hope they’d give you the “HaGer Bet” flavor I know you won’t be able to resist 😉 . Enjoy!


For TimQet/2009 photos from JanMeda, go to Arefe’s Random pictures from Timket. Or take a look at these collections on google.

January 20, 2009 at 9:18 am 4 comments

Fasika (as I saw it :-))

I wrote the following e-mail to a dear friend from Finland [who was more interested in history, and the weather, than I ever would] on February 26, 2004. It could use a good deal of editing and might sound disrespectful to some [the sister may have always seen things her own way but wasn’t always as, shall we say, “politically correct” as she tries to be nowadays?! “Politically correct”! Now that is some concept the Democratic world is shoving down the Ethiopian throat]. But I thought I might as well post it as not many articles seem to exist on the internet regarding Ethiopian holidays [except for few impersonal descriptions by tour operators, travel agents and people who live by the camera] and, ofcouse, because there is no better way to say “Melkam YeTinsae Beal” to my home-sick Ethiopian friends!

“Fasika” (“Festivity”) or “YeTinsae Beal” (Commemoration of The Resurrection), i.e. “Easter” is a very colorful and fascinating holiday in Ethiopia! Most of my relatives are either Protestant Christians or slack Orthodox Christians so I can’t tell you much about the … historical background. However, even the strictest ‘pente’ [as Protestant Christians are called here] can’t resist getting up at 3:00 a.m. in the morning to partake of the ‘doro wot’ [chicken stew, both spicy and delicious] that Ethiopian women cook for holidays after the almost 2 month’s lent. According to the Orthodox Church calendar, the lent has set in about 2 weeks ago. I believe the western [catholic?] church has got a one-month similar lent too. Why the Ethiopian one got extended by 15 more days is because of the extra time, referred to as ‘yengus tsom’ [fasting of the kings], when the Ethiopian people are said to have prayed that God return Ethiopia to Ethiopians and that their king {who was on exile somewhere in England for the whole period} return home, at the time of the 5 years Italian occupation. A tribute to a prayer-answered, so to say.

It might interest you to know that what is referred to as ‘tsom’ [fasting/lent] in the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian context is eating every type of food except that which is a diary or meat product, Fish excluded, within either Wednesday or Friday or for the whole season of ‘lent’, also referred to as ‘Abiy tsom” or ‘yefasika tsom’. Ethiopians believe eating dairy product and meat would encourage the ‘flesh’ to indulge in sinful thoughts but vegetable food stuff like peas, beans, and the like doesn’t. This, ofcourse, doesn’t include those Ethiopians who are either Muslim or Protestant. They fast off food and water for whatever limit of time they want and eat what their heart desires when done. Which the Orthodox Christians do not consider a real ‘tsom’. [Fancy that! :-)]

So… after the 45 day’s ‘tsom’, and on the day when Christ was supposed to have been crucified [always on Friday, April 9 this year] most Orthodox Christians [including those who do not attend church regularly] would dress in neat white robes (what we call a ‘netela’) which is supposed to be an attire that angels wear, and go to the church close to them, without food. They worship, by kneeling down at the place of their choice within the ‘sacred’ grounds of the church {usually at a place of shade as the sun is severe}, crossing themselves all the while. And getting up and doing it all over again until they are worn out and unable to raise themselves. At which interval they’d take some breath and rest, listening to the word of God being preached, some spiritual songs by the priests and deacons, confessing their sins and thinking spiritual thoughts. This goes on from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m, straight!

At exactly 3:00 p.m., the priests [who have thus far taken refugee within the walls of the church] would come out with a leaf that’s supposed to represent, i imagine, the ones the whole town of Jerusalem took to greet Jesus with on His arrival there, in their hands and dipping the leaf in a “tsebel” {holy water} ask those struggling to get near them (and be as out of ear shot of those around as possible) what sort of sin they committed within the last year. Upon learning which, they order them to ‘mesged’ [worship] between 40-120 times [according to the severity of the “sin”] and give them absolution by sprinkling some of the “holy water” from the leaf on their face!


April 24, 2008 at 7:30 am 24 comments


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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