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The Feast of the Transfiguration (ደብረ ታቦር)



Every year on Nehase 13 (August 19) Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord and saviour Eyesus Kirstos Mount of Tabor (Debre Tabor). Our Lord revealed the mystery of Mount Tabor when He was with his three disciples Peter, James, and John. There were also three heavenly witnesses: Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God from heaven.


Matthew 17:1-9

17 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,

2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.

4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.

5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.

9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.


Thus, the Old Testament law requiring three witnesses to attest to any fact was fulfilled: both on earth, as well as in heaven.


Deuteronomy 19:15

15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.


The prophecy was also spoken by King David.


Psalm 89:12

12 The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.


The Feast of the Transfiguration is also known as "Buhe" by the members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church. Buhe (ቡሄ) means "bald or bare." because it is around the time where the continues rain, the fog, the clouds are start getting to stop and the light shines. Hence Buhe marks the last days of the rainy season approaching. Therefore, the arrival of Buhe celebration indicates the darkness of rainy season pass, and it will lead to light and brightness. There is a known proverb "after Bohe celebration, there will be no rainy season after rooster crows, there will be no night”.


The Feast of the Transfiguration also called the Feast of Light to commemorates that at the time of his Transfiguration his face shone like the sun, and His garments became gleaming white. In Ethiopia parishioners light a torch at night. This is an example of the divinity light seen on Mount Tabor.


When Bohe is approaching the children would start making whip sound is to imitate the sound of the thunder that was heard in the sky, and when they hear this sound mothers will start grinding their wheat to bake bread for the festival. On the eve of the festival Nehase 12(August 18), children would go from house to house saying, “buhe Buhe blue lejoch hulu – come out children sing bohe bohe “. The mothers then pick up the bread and give it to them.

On the day of Transfiguration, the shepherds did not return home because they thought it was still daylight. Observing the children's delay, the mothers lit a torch and took out bread. It is from this story that a loaf of bread is given to the children and the torch is lit. Buhe bread is given to a Christian child, son-in-law, mother-in-law, and all relatives.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen !

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