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Touring through Eritrea
November and December 2006
 
Asmara and surroundings
November and December 2006
 

 

Asmara Eritrea (Nigdet) - November 30th 2006

 

Each Orthodox Church has a particular day during the year when a Saint's day is celebrated. This holiday is known as 'Nigdet'. For the Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral in Asmara, the date for Nigdet is November 30th of each year. On this day the neighborhood is fully mobilized to welcome guests and worshippers. A festival atmosphere prevails, contacts are renewed and friendships are further strengthened.

Events like these are a good reason to make one's agenda even before visiting Eritrea, or on the first day of one's visit, because they allow the tourist to taste the religious traditional holiday festivals of the country. Very early I go to the Keren bus station, and have a seat on a Toyota mini bus. The price is twice the regular price for the trip to Asmara, but it saves time, because the van is faster and there is no tea / breakfast break.

Just in time I am in Asmara to witness the priests, the music and the singing and dancing children rounding the square and the streets in front of the Nda Mariam Church several times. I join two policemen who are observing the audience. One of them is a bit suspicious. I show him the content of my camera bag and the letter of recommendation for Afabet, so there will be no further misunderstanding.

Two weeks ago I changed 100 euro for almost 200 ten Nakfa notes at the Himbol exchange office. They will be useful today as a gift to those who came to the festival to ask for charity. In one of the offices of the school opposite to the church, I unpack a bundle of banknotes, and put them in an easy assessable pocket on my shirt. A priest is watching, and approving my activities with a smile.  Blind, handicapped or very old people intermingle with the crowd that is praying in front of the church, asking for some coins or a Nakfa.

To have a better view of the ceremonies, I climb the stairs near the entrance of the church. One of the priests guides me to a small platform in front of one of the bell towers, for a perfect view over the compound. To attend an open air service with so many people is really impresive.

At 12:00 the ceremony is finished and the people return to their houses to celebrate Nigdet with their family, drinking suwa and sharing a meal. Since I skipped breakfast, I celebrate this holiday with the girls in the Cathedral Snack Bar, enjoying fruit juice and pastry, before visiting the family of my wife.

  

Nigdet festival - Adi Quala Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Quala Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Keyh Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Keyh Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Keyh Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Keyh Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Quala Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Quala Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Keyh Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Keyh Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Mda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Mda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Mda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Mda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral Asmara Eritrea.

Main gate - Mda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral Asmara Eritrea.

Main gate - Mda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Mda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Mda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Quala Street Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet festival - Adi Quala Street Asmara Eritrea.

Celebration of Nigdet in a family house - Asmara Eritrea.

Celebration of Nigdet in a family house - Asmara Eritrea.

Celebration of Nigdet in a family house - Asmara Eritrea.

Celebration of Nigdet in a family house - Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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