In the predawn darkness of 5 a.m., nearly 1,000 people stand in a circle, their white robes reflecting the glow of the candle that each holds. In the center, priests in elaborate, many-hued robes and huge pillbox hats lead prayers over a golden replica of the Ark of the Covenant. Suddenly, the priests turn and start walking. The faithful follow, candles in hand, chanting eerily beautiful prayers in a language totally foreign to Western ears. The procession winds around town as the sun rises.
It's just another morning in Axum, Ethiopia.