Maysara Abdullah Hussein, professor of archeology at Cairo University and owner of the selection and translation of ancient Egyptian songs in the two major ceremonies, the opening of the road of rams and the procession of royal mummies, tells the story of the Opet Festival from its beginning until its extinction in the Roman era.
Hussein told “Sky News Arabia” that the celebration of the Opet Festival was held every year with the beginning of the flood in the second half of the second month of the flood season, which corresponds to August 30 in today’s accounts, and his philosophy was that the entire universe regains its vitality, health and renewal, In preparation for the new agricultural season.
Hussein adds, “The Opet Festival originated mainly in the city of Luxor around 2000 BC, in the era of the Middle Kingdom, and when Luxor became the capital of Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, its local holidays became of a national nature, including the Opet.”
The Egyptian academic explains: “The god Amun-Ra, Lord of the Karnak temple, was his main function as the king of the gods, and the ownership of this god, like that of humans, was renewed every year, and until the god Amun-Ra’s ownership on the throne of the gods was renewed, his predecessor, the god Amun, had to give it to him. Luxor, so the procession on the Feast of Opet moved from Karnak Temple to Luxor Temple for this purpose.
These rituals were taking place in the Luxor Temple, whose name was “Ibt-Resit” and translated in Arabic as the Southern Sanctuary. It means the Temple of the Sanctuary.
The professor of archeology says that “the feast takes place in the Ebit cabin, which is a large hall in the Luxor temple, and in the era of the modern state, the duration of the celebration of the feast was up to 11 days during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut, and during the reign of Ramses II, the duration of the celebration was up to 22 days, but in the afternoon The celebrations lasted for 27 days.
The feast rituals start from the Karnak temple, where offerings are made to the gods, then the procession moves on the road of rams to the Luxor Temple, in which priests walk carrying 4 boats containing statues of 3 deities, Amun, Nut and Khonsu, along with a boat carrying the statue of King Amun-Ra.
During the procession, the procession would stop 6 times, so that the common people could participate in the celebration rituals, before finally reaching the Luxor Temple.
Hussein says that the details of what was going on in the Luxor Temple are still ambiguous due to the loss of the last part of the temple walls, but “what we know is that the god Amun, the Lord of Luxor Temple, was crowning the god Amun-Ra, the Lord of Karnak Temple, and giving fertility to the Egyptian land.”
On the way back to the temple of Karnak, great ceremonial rites were held, where joy was spread, drinks were made and offerings were made in tents along the way, and each tent was accompanied by a band, in addition to the participation of military music and foreign bands.
The Egyptian academic says that the lists of offerings included more than 50 species, including geese, roast ducks, sacrifices of cows and deer, as well as all kinds of pies and cakes made of honey.
Hussein points out that the feast procession in the era of Hatshepsut used to move on foot in the way of rams, but during the reign of King Amenhotep III it was moving in the Nile, and it also stopped 6 times on its way, and here he stresses that “the road of rams was not established only for the sake of Eid The Opet, where religious processions took place approximately every 10 days.
Has the Feast of the Day disappeared?
According to the Egyptian academic, the Opet feast began to disappear with the Roman era when the Romans closed the Luxor Temple, which was the main headquarters of the celebration, so that in 130 AD the temple was transformed into a Roman fortress, which became the seat of the Roman garrison that governs Upper Egypt.
Because of the closure of the Luxor Temple, there was no place to celebrate, so the people roamed the streets of Luxor carrying the boats of the gods, and with the entry of Christianity into Egypt and the issuance of the decree to close the temples in 391 AD, and over time, the Opet festival disappeared, even the path of rams itself, which was a path for processions began to disappear under the dust , until it was discovered in 1949.
Among the distinctive features of the Opet feast is that it left traces of it despite its disappearance. The month of its chapter in the Coptic year is derived from the Opet feast, and echoes of this feast are still present in Luxor. It was used thousands of years ago.
Hussein concludes his speech by stressing that the celebration of the opening of the Rams Road is not a celebration of the Opet Festival, and does not aim to retrieval of events from ancient Egypt, as all the details are different in terms of the date and rituals of the feast, but the celebration is an inspiration for this spirit and a restoration of the identity of the city of Luxor.