The Sunday Mail
Ibo Foroma : Rastafarian Perspectives
THE Ethiopian Year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each, and a 13th month of five days (six in a leap year).Pagumen is from the Greek “Epagomenaih merai”, which means “supplementary days” and is the last month followed by Maskaram.
Maskaram 1 usually falls on September 11 on the Gregorian or Babylon calendar or September 12 in leap years.
Nyabinghi Theocratic Order brethren and sistren including all Rastafarians are reveling: “Happy New Year!”
Egypt and Kush is one, the same calendar is used in both African countries, by Coptics and Tewahedos and is a product of Black people. All Africans are invited to join in celebrating this original and accurate New Year festival.
Black people from ancient times invented the calendar and recording of time resulting in the same time keeping systems we use to this day.
In ancient Egypt and Ethiopia (Kush/Nubia/Punt) the number six was used to represent time and space.
Six is the cosmic number of the material world and therefore is the number chosen by the Ancients to symbolise both time and space.
They considered the three dimensions of space to be six as in the mathematical co-ordinates of (x;-x; y;-y; z; -z) or length, width and height.
Time and space are two sides of the same coin and these elements are perfectly represented in the science of astronomy and its application, astrology. Scientists now agree that there is a very close connection between space and time, so close that you can’t have one without the other.
Anything to do with timekeeping, for the Ancient Ethiopians, was and is based on the number six, or its multiples. The whole day was/is 24 hours (6 x 4), consisting of 12 hours of day time(6 x 2), and 12 hours of night time (6 x 2).
The hour was/is 60 minutes (6 x 10), and the minute was/is 60 seconds (6 x 10). The month was/is 30 days (6 x 5). The year was/is 12 months (6 x 2). The Great Zodiac Year contained 12 Zodiac Ages origins.
This corresponds to Jacob/ Israel’s 12 sons and one daughter and Jesus’ twelve male disciples and one female. The female counterpart is represented by the 13th month.
The Ethiopian calendar is eight behind the Gregorian calendar from January 1 to September 11 and seven years behind between September 12 and December 31. Thus, the Ethiopian New Year begins on the 1st Mäskäräm and is called Énkutatash.
Ethiopian tradition confirms that the word “Énkutatash” is derived from what King Solomon said when he gave his present to the Queen of Shaba/Sheba/Saba, an Ethiopian Queen who visited King Solomon in Jerusalem. Énkulätatésh, meaning ‘jewelfor your finger’.
From the “Kébrä Nägäst” or Glory of Kings, “And the Queen (Shaba) rejoiced, and she went forth in order to depart, and the king (Solomon) set her on her way with great pomp and ceremony.
And Solomon took her aside so that they might be alone together, and he gave it to the Queen, and said unto her, “Take this (ring) so that thou mayest not forget me. And if it happens that I obtain seed from thee, this ring shall be unto it a sign, and if it be a man child he shall come to me; and the peace of God be with thee.”
Therefore, according to the Biblical Book of Kings, this festival Énkutatash has been celebrated since those Old Testament times.
Ethiopian scholars also relate this feast with the waters of the flood which happened during the time of Noah (Genesis 7 and 8).
According to this view, the celebration of Énkutatash started from the moment when the dove came back to Noah and his family in the ark carrying an olive leaf in her mouth from which Noah understood that the flood was abated. As soon as he learnt this, he came out from the ark and offered a sacrifice of aromatic flowers unto Jah Ras Tafari.
Hence Ethiopians, at home and abroad, celebrate Énkutatash, which happened after the rainy season by having reeds and bouquets of flowers decorating rainbow Ethiopia.
As the festival falls in September, at the end of the big rains, nature is hand in glove with the event. The pounding rainy season being over, grains and corn springing up, flowers and trees blooming; and even the birds decked out in their brightest plumage, which, as the season advances, they lose, and recover only with the rains.
The sun comes out to shine all day long creating an atmosphere of dazzling clarity and clean fresh air. It is the beginning of a New Year even here in the southern hemisphere, life is springing.
In Ethiopia, from one’s window can be heard the twittering of birds. Resurrecting the ancient incident, these small and pretty birds are to be pictured fluttering from flower to flower. These birds are named as “yämäskälwäfoch,” meaning ‘the birds of the cross.’
On the streets are the passers-by going to and from wafting bouquets of fresh sweet scenting flowers. These are a rhapsody of colour and are twined about by long green lemon grass which adds to the floral perfume. It would seem as if Mäskäräm is nothing without flowers.
Ethiopian princesses (girls) clad in brand new clothes and rainbow colours, dance through the villages and convey the message of spring time and renewed life through their songs, giving bouquets of flowers and painted pictures to each household.
This symbolism is linked to the first plant brought by the dove to the ark of Noah after the floods, which plant is said to have been the flower “engicha”.