After sailing through the Esna lock, our cruise docked at Luxor. We disembarked from the cruise and hopped into a van to Karnak temple. At first sight, it was truly mesmerizing. Our Egyptologist Michael walked us through the massive pylons carefully explaining the history behind every structure.
Karnak is a temple city that took 2,000 years to construct. It was dedicated to the Gods Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. The temple is so big that St Petersburg in Milan and Notre Dame Cathedrals would fit within its walls.
It was the belief of the Ancients that towards the end of the annual agricultural cycle, Gods and the earth became exhausted and required a fresh input from the chaotic energy of the cosmos.
Opet festival – To accomplish this magical regeneration and to celebrate the link between the Pharaoh and god Amun, this festival was held yearly at Karnak temple and Luxor for Twenty-seven days. The procession which began at Karnak temple traversed one and a half miles to the south and ended at Luxor.
Everyday the idol of the god Amun was ritualistically bathed with holy water, dressed in fine linen, and adorned in gold and silver jewellery. The idol was placed in a shrine and carried using a ceremonial barque supported by poles. The Pharaoh led the procession from the temple with the priests carrying the barque on their shoulders, and onto the crowded streets. Incense filled the air, bands of Nubian soldiers beat their drums and musicians accompanied the priests in song. Very similar to our religious processions in southern India. There are so many similarities between our Indian religious culture and the ancient Egyptians. Makes you wonder if the natives had ever communicated across the continents or were they in direct communion with God.
Once the procession reached Luxor, the Pharaoh and his priests entered the temple where purification ceremonies were performed to regenerate Amun, recreate the cosmos and transfer Amun’s power to Pharaoh. After the ceremony, when he finally emerged from the temple sanctuary, the vast crowds cheered him and celebrated the guaranteed fertility of the earth and the expectation of abundant harvests.
During the festival people were given over 11000 loaves of bread and more than 385 jars of beer, and some were allowed into the temple to ask questions of the God. The priests spoke the answers through a concealed window high up in the wall, or from inside hollow statues. Sounds straight off a comedy movie right? That’s how the priests and the Pharaoh controlled the subjects.
Want TravelbugDiary to help you with a Free, Personalized, Curated Travel Plan for your next big vacation?