Aboard canoes, motorboats and kayaks fashioned from papyrus stems, the faithful converged on a lake in central Ethiopia to celebrate the Orthodox holiday of Epiphany, known locally as “Timkat”.

Lake Ziway, 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Addis Ababa, is at the heart of annual celebrations in this region to mark the baptism of Christ, one of the holiest days on the Ethiopian Orthodox calendar.

The festivities began Wednesday afternoon, as high priests of the church departed from monasteries situated on five of the lake’s islands, flanked by clergy draped in red, blue, white and gold.

The priests held aloft the “tabot”, replicas of the tablets on to which Christians believe the Ten Commandments given to Moses were inscribed.

From the islands, the priests boarded boats laden with crosses and other icons and journeyed to the centre of the lake, where they performed rites surrounded by the faithful.