Religions presuppose a set of symbols that evoke feelings of respect or awe and are associated with various rituals (e.g. religious services) in which a community of believers is involved. Ritualistic religious acts include prayers, hymns, dances, use or abstinence from food, fasting, use of symbols, lighting a candle, offering food or flowers to a deity, etc. Religious worship rituals are performed individually by a person or collectively by groups of believers. The formal rituals are ceremonies which take place in sacred places such as churches, temples, mosques, pagodas (depending on religion). The informal rituals are festive events (e.g., fairs, festivals, processions, etc.) and take place on specific dates that symbolise an important incident for the believer (e.g., the appearance of a deity or its envoy, the performance of a miracle, dormition of a holy person, etc.). The celebration of a patron saint or the Virgin Mary is usually accompanied by a religious and social fair. These fairs are very popular throughout Greece especially during the summer. Beyond the general concept of national character, the religious fairs dedicated to Virgin Mary comprise a multitude of events that reflect the local culture of each region.

This study describes the actual process of the fair (Panigiri) dedicated to the Sifnos island patron Saint Panagia Chrissopighi (Our Lady of the Golden Spring), which is held every year on Ascension Day (40th day after the Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday). The 16th century monastery Panagia Chrissopigi stands at the south-eastern part of the island. More specifically, the tradition of ‘Panigiras’ (the organiser of the fair who is responsible for the expenses and the festivities) is examined. The data collection method is participant observation. For the celebration of the Virgin Mary of Chrissopigi, the custom of ‘panigiras’ originates from the unwritten rules of tradition, which shows the deep-seated religious sentiment of the inhabitants of Sifnos island, in the Cyclades, Greece. The custom of ‘panigiras’ has a dual nature - religious and cultural. The religious component (pilgrimage) continues to be of great importance to the local community of Sifnos, but at the same time it offers a remarkable cultural dimension for visitors to the island (religious tourists).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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