Hidar is the third month of a yearly Ethiopian calendar which contains thirteen months. It’s a month when the spirit of new beginning celebration gives away to the anticipation and preparation of the coming big events and celebrations – Genna (Ethiopian Christmas), Wedding Season and Timket (Ethiopian Epiphany) to name the few.
It’s that time of year, when the memorable seasonal flowers fading ways. mud replaced by dust, rainy days replaced by strong sun, fountains clearing up and start reducing.
In Ethiopia religion is the soul and religious celebration is culture. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church dedicates each day of the month to particular saints, angels, martyrs, apostles and to the Lord.
Even though the scope of these celebrations varies, it definitely kindles a unique vibe almost every day. These less known religious celebrations which seem reserved for locals, interestingly puzzles tourists who follows guide books fervently, makes a day of a tourist who’s tour guide is serendipity for unique experience practiced by locals, makes some getting used to for expats because of early morning prayers sounded from the church and unexpected traffic, reminds a particular date for locals (devotees or not) and for the Ethiopian orthodox religion devotees these days mean more obviously.
From an early morning Divine Liturgy sounded from the churches to devotees flocks to the church wearing white. Colorfully decorated churches with flags and goods being sold outside the church – from candles to fresh cut grass – all are the eloquent details which makes up a unique scene of this kind of religious celebrations. It’s more pronounced for the annual celebrations of a particular date which can happen twice a year.
The twelfth day of each Ethiopian month is dedicated by The Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church to commemorate the Archangel St. Michael. The Annual celebration takes place On Hidar 12 (November 21) and Sene 12 (June 19).
According to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, feast days remembers a particular event from the holy bible or other written books with miracles performed by a particular angel or saint. Thus the annual feast of The Archangel St. Michael on Hidar 12 (November 21) is specifically in remembrance of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt with the help of the angel according to the church.
St. Michael (Kidus Mikael in Amharic) is believed to be the head of heavenly host, who stands beside the throne of God, guardian of the soul of saints and martyrs and interceding on behalf of human.
The paintings of St. Michael in the Orthodox churches of Ethiopia, portrays the angel beautifully as the commander of angels wearing graceful worrier attire with sparkling long sword on his hand.
In addition to the Holy Bible, there is a holy book which contains the miracles of St. Michael which devotees revere fervently and believe the continuation of these kinds of miracles to happen in their own life because of the interceding.
On the annual feast of the archangel St. Michael a special mass held at the Ethiopian Orthodox Church dedicated by the angels name. The replica of Ark of the Covenant taken from the Holy of Holies and presented to the procession inside the church compound. Mentioning the miracles The Archangel St. Michael operated in prayers, sermons and hymns which inspires women’s joyous and celebratory ululate.
There is a common ritual practiced by the devotees in order to commemorate, worship and give thanks. Ethiopian traditional home baked round bread – Difo Dabo, roasted barley – Kolo and traditional home brewed beer- Tella in the name of St. Michael are being prepared and shared with family, loved ones and even with fellow devotees in the church as an offer that can’t be refused as it is consider to be sharing a blessing.
The other ritual is neighbors getting together forming a group in the name of a particular angel or saint in commemorating together. The ritual involves the group to come together in one of the group’s house for the feast in rotation.
This particular group formed to commemorate and share the feast together locally known as Ye Tswa Mahber which includes collections of miniatures as a movable shrine – paintings of a particular angel or saint they choose to commemorate specifically and the Holy Trinity and St. Mary.
A traditional small clay pot and straw weaved basket, covered with colorful costume. The clay pot contains Tella (home brewed beer) and the basket contains pieces of bread as a representation of the holly blood and flesh. The collection of miniatures moves from one household to the other. The next host receives it and keeps it at the household until the next month get together in celebration to commemorate.
Where religion and tradition intertwined, witnessing and being mesmerized by unique practices of particular society is a guarantee. These rituals are more than compilation of mundane details, rather the electrifying energy around it is powerful enough to shine a light on the opaqueness of everything is connected and permeate with the universe.