Tuesday, April 7, 2015

lalibela, ethiopia - part 3:

So this is my last post from our trip to Ethiopia before I do that big wrap-up, and I have to say we really did finish on a high. 
Like I mentioned in earlier posts, we happened to be in Lalibela for Genna - Ethiopian Christmas, and made the most of it by trying to experience the celebrations as much as possible.
After spending Christmas Eve exploring the churches and seeing the start of the celebrations kick off with chanting and prayers in the churches, we were up before sunrise on Christmas morning to make our way back down to Bet Maryam church (Church of St. Mary) for the culmination of the ceremonies. Here, the priests and deacons stand above the church, making their way around it whilst chanting and swaying before breaking out into joyful song at the very end to celebrate the birth of Christ.

The pilgrims who had travelled from far and wide had slept overnight in the church complex, so it was a bit tricky to navigate our way to a free spot in the dark without disturbing anyone. There were literally bodies everywhere! We were incredibly lucky to nab a really great spot with an amazing view of the priests making their way around.
The whole experience was incredibly moving and one of the most beautiful things I had seen. The combination of the atmosphere, the ancient structures, colours and chanting created one of the highlights of our trip. 

I've included a little video of the ceremony (shot on the iPhone 6), to give you a little taster of what we experienced. It really does not do it any justice, but captures a very small part of what we witnessed.

next: the big Ethiopian wrap-up with some of our tips.

PS there is an in-depth interview about our travels in Ethiopia on the amazing Spirited Pursuit. Check it out here. Thanks Lee!

before sunrise

amongst the pilgrims

the priests, making their way around bet maryam

pilgrims leaving lalibela after the genna celebrations

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