Crowds jostle for holy water as Ethiopia celebrates Epiphany

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians have gathered to celebrate Timkat, or Epiphany, a major holiday marking the baptism of Jesus.

Priests sprinkle holy water that they have prayed on through the night. The crowds jostle to get some of the water on their faces, an act that symbolizes the renewal of baptismal vows.

Other priests hold crosses or beeswax candles, with the smell of frankincense in the air.

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Streets in the East African nation are packed with thousands of pilgrims gathered around the Tabot. The holy altar slabs are replicas of the Ark of the Covenant.

Reverently wrapped in colorful and expensive cloth, the Tabot rests on the head of a senior priest during its journey through the main streets of the capital, Addis Ababa, and back to its church.

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