(Xinhua) -- Ethiopian Christians across the East African country on Thursday started a three-day Ethiopian epiphany celebration with religious and cultural activities.
The Ethiopian epiphany (Timket in Amharic) is considered as one of the country's highly rated public events.
At the first day of the celebration, the Ark of the Covenant replicas (Tabots in Amharic) of each church are carried out in procession to a public space where the next day's celebration will take place.
A special tent is set up at the public space where each Tabot rests as members of the church choirs chant hymns all night long and are accompanied by priests with their prayer. The beating of drums, ringing of bells, and other spiritual activities are also integral parts of the Timkat celebrations.
The Tabots symbolizes the Ark of the Covenant and the tablets of the Ten Commandments, which Moses received on Mount Sinai from God.
The second day of the celebrations on January 19, or January 20 during leap year, is the main day of the Ethiopian Epiphany celebrations.
Ethiopian orthodox congregations from all segments of the society march cheerfully when the Tabots made way back to respective churches.
At the third day of the celebration, which is known as the feast of St. Michael the Archangel, only the Tabot of St. Michael's is returned to its church with the same singing and dancing of priests and believers.
Frehiwot Tadesse, attending the celebrations in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, told Xinhua that Timkat is a special event for her and its one of the most important events of Ethiopian Orthodox religion.
"I have never missed the celebrations every year. I am always excited to attend Timkat celebrations as it signifies the time we commemorate Jesus Christ's baptism. I am so happy," she said.
The Timket celebration is also a major tourist attraction event in Ethiopia, in which foreigners from different parts of the world attend celebrations both at church and public places.
Steffen Hynberg, a Canadian tourist attending the celebrations in Addis Ababa, told Xinhua that he was amazed by the celebrations.
"It's a great spectacle. A lot of color, a lot of pageantry and a lot of music," he said.
The core religious idea attached to the Ethiopian epiphany is similar with other Christians worldwide, which signifies the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist.