The Orthodox Church in Ethiopia says that the original Ark of the Covenant, which Moses brought with the Israelites during the Exodus, is located in one of its churches, Our Lady Mary of Zion. Due to biblical warnings of risk, only one priest is allowed into the building where the Ark is kept. As a result, foreign scholars are doubtful that the original Ark exists, despite claims made by many writers, including Graham Hancock in his book The Sign and the Seal.
Orthodox churches in Ethiopia are not considered churches until a Tabot, a copy of the tablets in the original Ark of the Covenant is issued to them by the local bishop. The Tabot is made of alabaster, marble, or wood and is at least six inches (15 cm) square. It is still kept on the altar in ornate coverings.
The Tabot can only be touched by priests. On the feast day of the church’s namesake, the Tabot is brought around the outside of the church in an elaborate procession accompanied by joyful singing. On the great Feast of T’imk’et, also known as Epiphany or Theophany in Europe, a group of churches sends their tabot to a popular location where a pool of water or a river can be found to commemorate the occasion.
Exorcisms in the Ethiopia orthodox Tewahido church are performed by priests on behalf of those who are thought to be possessed by demons or Buda. According to a Pew Research Center survey from 2010, 74% of Ethiopian Christians have undergone or witnessed an exorcism.
People who have been possessed by demons are taken to a church or a prayer meeting. When a patient’s illness does not lead to modern medical care, demons are often blamed. Unusual or extremely perverse deeds, especially when done in public, are signs of a demoniac. The afflicted exhibit superhuman strength, such as breaking one’s bonds, as mentioned in the New Testament accounts, as well as glossolalia.