ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
Tens of thousands of Ethiopian Christians gather in open spaces and around fountains Thursday in celebration of the Epiphany to commemorate the baptism of Jesus Christ.
In the capital Addis Ababa, huge crowds turned out at the widest open field in the city, Jan Meda.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarch Abune Mathias addressed the crowds. Also present at the ceremony were representatives from the churches of Alexandria, Greece and the Vatican .
Speaking on the occasion Hirut Woldemariam, culture minister, said Epiphany was a celebration that combined the religious and the cultural. He called it the world's largest festival.
Religious chanting as well as various traditional dances punctuated the celebration as Abune Mathias and clergymen sprinkled holy water on the crowd.
“It is something I have seen nowhere else but here in Ethiopia,” Paul Neilson, an American tourist told Anadolu Agency.
The celebration however saw a heavy police and security presence.
On Oct. 2, another festival turned into an anti-government protest causing the deaths of more than 50 people in a stampede that occurred after police fired bullets in the air and tear gas.