Timkat festival draws crowds to Cathedral

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The Timkat festival celebration at Liverpool's Anglican Cathedral. Pic by Lucy Fegan © JMU Journalism

The Timkat festival celebration at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. Pic by Lucy Fegan © JMU Journalism

Hundreds of Ethiopians gathered at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to celebrate the 2,000 year-old Timkat festival over the weekend.

Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church made the pilgrimage to Merseyside from all over the UK to join in the 24-hour celebrations which were held at the Cathedral.

The celebrations began at 3pm on Friday when the Tabot arrived in Liverpool for events including mass, baptism, short exhibitions and Ethiopian food. At noon on Saturday, clergy bearing robes and umbrellas of many colours, performed dances to rhythmic songs.

Timkat is the Celebration of Epiphany and marks the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. During the ceremonies of Timkat, the Tabot, a model of the Ark Of Covenant, is wrapped in rich cloth and is carried in procession on the head of the priest, representing the manifestation of Jesus as the Messiah when he went to be baptised.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Archbishop of Europe, His Grace Abuna Entonius, led the celebrations along with dozens of priests and choirs from all over the UK and Europe. People were seen donning white robes and taking off their shoes to dance and chant to music being played by the crowd. There was then a procession from one end of the cathedral to another, with hundreds of people running and dancing.

The festival is known for its spiritual re-enactment of baptism, as people were seen throwing water over each other in large groups, whilst singing and chanting.

John Pearson, a piano teacher as part of Sustainability Development, a charity providing training to people with English as a second or third language, told JMU Journalism: “It felt good to be part of a huge festival – many of my students are Ethiopian and Eritrean.

“There was a really energetic atmosphere, even considering that everyone had been up for about 20 or more hours by that point. There were lots of children running around, with music and people wearing beautiful clothes. It was amazing to see so many people there.”