Addis Ababa, September 27, 2017 (FBC) – Ethiopian Orthodox Christians across the country today celebrated Meskel festival, which commemorates the discovery of the True Cross by Queen Helena, known in Ethiopia as Nigist Eleni.
Demera, the tradition of burning bonfire on the eve of Meskel, was also observed by followers of the religion yesterday.
Here in Addis Ababa, it (Demera) was celebrated at Meskel Square in the presence of religious leaders, followers of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, high-level government officials, diplomats, foreigners and tourists.
Many people, including hundreds of priests and deacons attired in Ethiopia's traditional plain white clothes, gathered to mark the day with a grand bonfire ceremony, lit by Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
Baselios Mar Thoma Paulose II, Catholicos of the East and the Supreme Head of the Indian Orthodox Church also attended this year’s Demera celebration.
In a separate development, some tourists whom ENA has talked with said the Demera festival has many unique features that the world needs to see.
Kendall Valenzuela, from California, U.S. is her first time to take part in the festival. She said, “This is definitely the first of the many visits that I will have in the future. I am learning so much about the culture, the history and it is a tremendous blessing for me to be part of this day."
“It’s beautiful to see so many different ethnicities, different types of people from the church and I am just enjoying the unity and being part of it”, she added.
“Seeing all the different churches gathered to celebrate in unity and with colorful clothes is impressing and it’s an honor to get to be here on such a special day” she said noting the unique robes that priests, deacons, Sunday school students, and followers who join the festivals wore.
Valenzuela is eager to share this experience with family and friends. “I hope to go home and share it up with family and friends”.
Brian McLeod and his wife, from Pennsylvania, the U.S., have been touring for the last three weeks across the country including the historical places of Axum, Lalibela and Gondar before they came back to Addis to attend Demera.
McLeod very much overwhelmed by what saw in the celebration. He said he is regrets for not knowing the existence of "such an impressive outdoor celebration in Ethiopia".
Overwhelmed by the large gathering with a lot of emotion, McLeod who attended the Demera festival said, “It is very unique, culturally rich, so there is nothing I can imagine anywhere else in the world like it”.
Noting that the youth are not as involved in church activities in the U.S. as it used to be, McLeod said “but in Ethiopia large number youth are involved and I think that is a real tribute to the Ethiopian church”.
Pleased by what he saw in the Demera festival and historical places he visited, McLeod said, "Many people don’t know Ethiopia and I think it is time that they come and really got to know the country”.
For South Korean Yujin Jung, who had been in Ethiopia for the last nine months, the Demera celebration has amused her.
Expressing the strong bond among participants of the celebration and the ceremonial activities, are 'very holly and joyful' for Jung, who is a Protestant. She said bond among participants and ceremonial activities makes her think, "we are all the kind of God's family”.
Saying that there is a cultural similarity between South Korea and Ethiopia especially in wearing white clothes during holidays, Jung said, “I really want to come back with my family because I feel like surprised. The culture of the South Korea and the Habesha culture is very similar”.
The Demera celebration, which was inscribed under UNESCO’s intangible heritages, is one of the religious festivals that attract more tourists to the East African country.
Posted by Amare Asrat