Ethiopians are celebrating the Meskel Holiday to commemorate the discovery of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified. The celebrations began on Friday, known as Demera, at the Meskel Square in Addis Ababa.

The country’s Orthodox Christians converge at the square, dressed in robes and the Church’s traditional attire while priests and deacons bring ornate crosses, drums and traditional umbrellas used in church services to the ceremony. The faithful also light candles to signify efforts made by St. Helena who found the cross at a place pointed to by the smoke of the fire she lit.

However, police have outlawed the display of the Orthodox Church’s flag deemed “unconstitutional and provocative.”

The celebrations come amid protests by followers of the country’s Orthodox Church against what they believe is state-sponsored attacks on their beliefs. Multiple rallies have been held across the country in recent times denouncing attacks on the church.

There is an estimated 36 million Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia, who make up 14 percent of the world’s total orthodox population.