The Ethiopian and Eritrean Christian Community in Malta, numbering about 500, celebrated their rite of commemorating the baptism of Jesus Christ, one of the main highlights of their religious calendar.
Wearing traditional dress and singing traditional hymns accompanied by the beating of drums, they celebrated their Orthodox religion in Valletta to honour one of their main feasts. The event started with a Mass in the church of St James and continued with a rousing procession to Marsamxett.
“We come to the church and we go near by the sea or a river, so that we represent the original, how Jesus Christ was baptised by St John”, said Major Sium who is Eritrean.
After communal singing and praying, the officiating priest wets the faces of all those present at the ceremony. The majority wear traditional white dress which Major Sium explained represents the purity of the soul as desired by God from all people.
Tidaru Dinku, an Ethiopian who has been in Malta for ten years, said that members of the community change because some move on to start a new life in another country. He said that over the last eleven years, 2,000 were in the community but every year some moved on to the United States and other countries.
This is the second year that this Christian Community has celebrated this rite near the sea and with their own priest. Previously an Egyptian Coptic priest used to invited to conduct the celebrations.