Ancient Egyptian public religious ceremonies: Temple festivals-Processions, Festivals The Opet Festival, The Beautiful Feast of the Valley, The procession of Min, Osirian festivals, Visiting the dead, Calendar of festivals during the Middle Kingdom.
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Public religious ceremoniesThe daily worship from which the public was excluded, took place inside the temples. The statues of the gods were tended by priests who had to cleanse themselves ritually before entering the temple. The ordinary people worshipped their housegods at home or found a listening ear at some of the temples.
The public retelling of the story of Osiris led to spectacles which can be described as theatre, in which lay persons and priests took part.
Of some of the processions one knows during which season they happened. On the Hassawanarti island near Elephantine rock inscriptions concerning the event were carved at a height which corresponded to the lowest yearly water level of the Nile during the New Kingdom. Thus the procession took place in late spring. Other sources speak of the progression of Anuket by boat from Elephantine to the Sehel island occurring at approximately the same time of the year .
The Egyptians hold their solemn assemblies not once in the year but often, especially and with the greatest zeal and devotion at the city of Bubastis for Artemis (Pasht), and next at Busiris for Isis; for in this last-named city there is a very great temple of Isis, and this city stands in the middle of the Delta of Egypt; now Isis is in the tongue of the Hellenes Demeter: thirdly, they have a solemn assembly at the city of Sais for Athene (Nit), fourthly at Heliopolis for Helios (Re), fifthly at the city of Buto in honour of Leto (Uat), and sixthly at the city of Papremis for Ares (perhaps Anhur).Some of the processions took on a national rather than a regional character during the New Kingdom. Rock inscriptions on Hassawanarti speak of the participants: Courtiers, the crown prince, officials of the treasury and palace administration, the vice-roy of Kush, priests representing the Amen temple at Karnak and the temple of Montu, and high military men.
The minor Khnum chapel at Gebel Tingar near Aswan on the other hand had only local fame. It attracted workers from the near-by quarries, ordinary soldiers on duty in the region and priests of the lower ranks . Theban Triad were carried was lined with peddlers hawking fruit and other kinds of food. The stern and bow of Amen's boat were adorned with rams' heads, Mut's had heads of women and Khonsu's of falcons. The carriers of the boats had clean shaven faces and heads and wore knee-length kilts.
Priests carrying bark, 19th dynasty
They were towed by fully equipped soldiers, carrying shields, spears and axes, and accompanied by standard bearers, while the onlooking men clapped and the women sounded sistra and castanets. Libyans sang and Nubians danced. The barges were tied to sailing ships and made their way slowly towards Luxor amidst an armada of ships and boats.
Three weeks later the statues were returned to their temples at Karnak, another occasion for public celebrations.
Seti I, he made (it) as his monument for his father, Osiris-Ramses I [triumphant; making for him a house] of millions of yaers, the "Temple-of-the-Spirit-of-Seti-Merneptah-in-the-House-of-Amonon-the-West-of-Thebes"; and fashioning his barque, [built (?)] of electrum, in order to carry his beauty in the procession of the lord of gods, at his feat of the valley.Some feasts were held celebrating special occasions like Thutmose III's three Feasts of Victory
The second "Feast of Victory" was celebrated at the (feast) "Day-of-Bringing-in-the-God", the second feast of Amon, in order to make it of five day's duration.Seven centuries later Piye described how he would celebrate this and other Amen festivals on his stela:
"Now, afterward when the ceremonies of the New Year are celebrated, I will offer to my father, Amon, at his beautiful feast, when he makes his beautiful appearance of the New Year, that he may send me forth in peace, to behold Amon at the beautiful Feast of Opet; that I may bring his image forth in procession to Luxor at his beautiful feast (called): "Night of the Feast of Opet," and at the feast (called): "Abiding in Thebes." which Re made for him in the beginning; and that I may bring him in procession to his house, resting upon his throne, on the "Day of Bringing in the God," in the third month of the first season, second day; that I may make the Northland taste the taste of my fingers."
A blessing to you, Min, who fertilizes the mother. Deep is the secret of what you did to her in the dark.the mother invoked being Isis, mother of Horus, ruler over both Upper and Lower Egypt. The pharaoh shot arrows in the four directions of the wind, freed four jays representing the four sons of Horus - Amset, Haphi, Duamutaph and Kabahsenuf - to announce to the whole land, that he was the heir of Horus and put on the red and white crowns. After symbolically reaping a few ears of corn the pharaoh kept one of them to himself. Further hymns were sung and the statue of the god was returned to its temple.
Then for Dionysos on the eve of the festival each one kills a pig by cutting its throat before his own doors, and after that he gives the pig to the swineherd who sold it to him, to carry away again; and the rest of the feast of Dionysos is celebrated by the Egyptians in the same way as by the Hellenes in almost all things except choral dances, but instead of the phallos they have invented another contrivance, namely figures of about a cubit in height worked by strings, which women carry about the villages, with the privy member made to move and not much less in size than the rest of the body: and a flute goes before and they follow singing the praises of Dionysos.contracts with the priests of Wepwawet to ensure he would receive proper post-mortem treatment, which included a torch-lit procession on the eve of the wag-feast, the presentation of offerings the next day and a further illuminated nightly outing.
The dead were remembered on a number of feast days, as Ahmose I's inscription makes clear, but that everybody observed all these days of remembrance may be doubted:
One spoke with the other, seeking benefactions for the departed (dead), to present libations of water, to offer upon the altar, to enrich the offering tablet at the first of every season, at the monthly feast of the first of the month, the feast of the coming forth of the sem, the feast of the night offerings on the fifth of the month, the feast of the sixth of the month, the feast of Hakro (hAkrA), the feast of Wag (wAg), the feast of Thoth, and at the first of every season of heaven, and of the earth.But it would have been a foolish person to neglect the needs of deceased ancestors, as they could be powerful allies in the underworld, looking after one's interests.
J. H. Breasted, Ancient Records of Egypt, 1906
J. H. Breasted, Development of Religion and Thought in Ancient Egypt, 1972 University of Pennsylvania Press
Marshall Clagett, Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book, 2004 Diane
Herodotus, Euterpe, translated by Rawlinson
Karol Mysliewiec, Karol Myasliwiec, Eighteenth Dynasty Before the Amarna Period, 1985 Brill Academic Publishers
Jaquet-Gordon, The Festival on which Amun went out to the Treasury in Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian Epigraphy and History in Memory of William J. Murnane, http://history.memphis.edu/murnane/ , accessed March 2007
Bojana Mojsov, Osiris: Death and Afterlife of a God, 2005 Blackwell Publishing
Laszlo Torok, L Tvrvk, Handbook of Oriental Studies, 1997 Brill Academic Publishers
Sherif El-Sabban, Temple festival calendars of ancient Egypt, Liverpool University Press, 2000, ISBN 0853236232
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| Felsinschriften auf und um Elephantine by PD Dr. Stephan J. Seidlmayer|
|Bark stations: the Visual Story by Sjef Willockx|
|The Beautiful Feast of the Valley|
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