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November & December 2009
A warm winter in Eritrea
 

 

Asmara - November 30 2009

 

At 8:00 I am at the compound of the Nda Mariam Coptic Cathedral. Today there will be a church feast, as every Orthodox church celebrates the birthday of its saint once a year. The Nda Mariam Nigdet festival is a local holiday for Asmara. All public offices are closed.

On the square in front of the compound people sell religious books, crosses, candles, holy sand, sacred stones, and pictures of the saint. A priest shakes a bell, collecting donations. Others sell araki, which is a welcome gift if you are invited to visit friends or family.

From the loudspeakers in front of the church sound the montone songs and drums of the mass inside. A friendly priest invites me to visit the old church, close to the gate. It is now used as a storage room.

The explanation of the monk is in Tigrinya. After some minutes it becomes clear to him that I do not understand his words. He guides me to an office of a monk who speaks some English.

The monk asks me if there is anything he can do for me. I ask him if he can change a 100 Nakfa note into 100 one Nakfa notes. I will use them to give to the poor, that are gathered in and around the church to ask for a small charity.

At 10:00 a procession leaves the church. Two musicians playing a wata are followed by men in traditional white clothes. Than the priests, and the pope of the Eritrean Tewahedo Orthodox Church. Finally the faithful that follow their religious leader.

The procession walks a few blocks in front of the church. The police and guards of the municipality of Asmara keep the public on a safe distance. I am welcome to come closer for better pictures, joining the cameramen of EriTV, as long as I stay just behind them.

After the procession the children, dressed with self made caps, sing religious songs. Religious officials end the ceremony on the Nda Mariam Square with speeches.

In the afternoon the people will celebrate Nigdet with their families. The "Araki! Araki!" reminds me to buy a gift for Haile and Freweini, where I will have lunch and coffee.

  

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Interior of the old chapel Nda Mariam Orthodox Church - Asmara Eritrea.

Interior of the old chapel Nda Mariam Orthodox Church - Asmara Eritrea.

Nda Mariam Primary School - Asmara Eritrea.

Nda Mariam Primary School - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

Nigdet Nda Mariam Orthodox Cathedral - Asmara Eritrea.

 

 
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