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Title:Religious 'mahbär' in Ethiopia: ritual elements, dynamics, and challenges
Authors:Flemmen, Anne Britt
Zenebe, Mulumebet
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa (ISSN 0022-4200)
Geographic term:Ethiopia
Subjects:Ethiopian Church
religious rituals
Abstract:This article explores the religious association 'mahbär', also called 'tsïwwa', in Ethiopia. Data from lay practitioners as well as priests show that religious mahbär has many religious as well as social functions. It is a ritual with long traditions in the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahedo Church. The authors show that what characterizes mahbär as a ritual is its unusual richness, complexity, multifunctionality and flexibility. By placing it within the Ethiopian religious context and the present development, the authors discuss why religious mahbär is in decline despite its multiple functions, flexibility, and support from the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahïdo Church. In difficult economic times one would expect traditional rituals such as mahbär to become more important to people, and hence to be strengthened, but this does not seem to be the case here. In the authors' view, three factors are pushing this decline: economic challenges, time constraints, and member recruitment. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]