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Photographer's Note

Ethiopian Christmas, or Gena, is one of the most solemn yet festive celebrations of this day that I have witnessed, and the main celebrations take place in Lalibela. It is sure very crowded but in several days before and during this holiday we saw no incidents, nor big problems with crowds. Everything has its own flow and people are generally respectful of each other. On the morning of January 8, the biggest celebration takes place at Bete Maryam church, with an overnight vigil and the presence of many church dignitaries. They celebrate the birth of Jesus, but the greatest honors are paid to his mother.
The first part of the celebration is an all-night vigil, that takes place inside the church yard, with thousands of people packed in, and hundreds precariously sitting or standing on the high walls above the church. At dawn, a major reshuffle happens, with dignitaries and clergy moving up onto the wall, and spectators moving down. The second segment of the celebration entails the singing and dancing of the clergy and designated participants around the church walls.
This photo was taken from the bottom of the church yard, and shows two of the "angels" who surround the church escarpment and very slowly and rhythmically move around the escarpment, until they return to their original position. It takes a very long time and can be a bit testing because during this segment of the celebration spectators and pilgrims are only allowed inside the church yard, and the singing and dancing takes place some good 10 metres above. There is quite a bit of shoving and pushing by people eager to join the crowds and a good guide is essential to get you through and place you where you can get the most of the many things that happen simultaneously.

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Photo Information
  • Copyright: Tanja Al (tanjagari) Silver Note Writer [C: 6 W: 0 N: 77] (260)
  • Genre: People
  • Medium: Color
  • Date Taken: 2020-01-08
  • Exposure: 1/214 seconds
  • Photo Version: Original Version
  • Date Submitted: 2020-04-14 1:14
Viewed: 0
Points: 4
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